If you had Googled “screen time regulations” a few years ago, you’d have read things like “Keep kids away from screens!” “Digital media exposure for children of all ages should be limited.” Or, “Screens are the equivalent of digital heroine!” Seriously. Now, there are still plenty of facts to support the argument to keep children away from screens, but there are also some alternative facts (!) to support allowing kids screen time.
While you’ll read things like Don’t Limit Your Kid’s Screen Time and Should Your Kids Have Limited Screen Time? on this site, we’d like to offer our own set of screen time regulations for the digital world.
Parents Should Introduce Screens
While it’s tough to guarantee that home is the first place your kids will learn about the birds and the bees, it can be the first place that screen time is introduced. Set standards for usage early and adhere to them. Kids learn through experiences and watching others. Set good examples of how you want your kids to eventually use their devices.
Screens Must Have a Purpose
While video games and Netflix are amazing uses during some much needed down time, make sure all uses of screens and digital media have a known purpose. Even if that purpose is constantly changing. Life is constantly changing.
Parents can say things like, “Tonight’s web browsing is limited to research for that history paper you have due on Wednesday.” or “You can only play video games if you and your sister do it together.” These statements set clear expectations. School work requires the internet. Kids shouldn’t feel like they’re doing something wrong by sitting at a computer and learning something new. They’re constantly being told to get off the computer, so give them reasons to use it. Use technology as a chance to spend time together. To play together and build relationships. Video games are perfect for this.
Content Should Be Age Appropriate
As parents, there is a tendency to overly monitor what kids are doing online. Instead, make sure the necessary settings are put into place on computers and tablets so that kids are getting what is meant for them. If kids are young, download YouTube Kids on household devices. If they’re older, set parental controls or install the extension Fox Filter if your browser of choice is Firefox. This same idea should apply to the apps and games kids are playing. If parents deem games too violent or suggestive, those games should be kept out of the house.
Prioritize Off-Screen Time
Make sure there is plenty to do as a family without the use of screens of any kind. Plan trips to the park, family vacations, and dinners together. Let kids, no matter their age, help prepare family dinner. A homemade pizza night can get everyone involved and excited about prep and clean up. And, there won’t be any complaints about what’s for dinner!