There are pros and cons to screen time for kids but it’s important that kids don’t get too much. Here are 6 ways to encourage healthy screen habits in your home.1
Switch your child’s – and you own – screens off and put devices away so kids aren’t tempted when they’re bored. Bring toys or books when you’re out and about, to give kids instead of a device.
“Being a good role model with how parents use screens is a positive way to guide a child’s behaviour when it comes to screen time use,” Associate Professor, Julie Green, Executive Director at raisingchildren.net.au reveals.
Arrange screen-free activities for kids and plan things like games, sport and craft. Even ban screens on the odd day altogether and do something fun as a family.
“It’s important that screen time doesn’t take the place of activities like physical play, reading, creative play like drawing, and social time with family and friends,” Professor Green stresses. “Real-life interactions with others are much better for your child’s wellbeing, learning and development.”
Explain why too much screen time can be bad for them and cyber safety to older children. Encourage them to make good choices when watching video, gaming, using social media and surfing the web.
“I monitor sites to enable discussions,” explains Amber, mum to an 11 and 13 year old in Sydney’s North West. “We've had many interesting chats relating to search terms and sites visited, as well as the morals and ethics behind these types of topics.”
Keep screen use mostly to common areas and limit it at the dinner table and in bedrooms (if at all). “Some families find it useful to have a charging station in a central point of the home to keep screens out of bedrooms at night,” Professor Green adds.
Make sure screens are switched off by a certain hour to avoid disrupting sleep and help kids stay cyber-safe. “Think about where kids use devices... families should enforce no-go tech zones such as bedrooms, meal and play areas,” tells digital and wellbeing expert, Dr Kristy Goodwin.
Talk to your child and agree on a daily screen time limit, plus make it a reward after homework is done.
“I do expect that homework and chores are done before screen time... I teach my teenagers about priorities and self-management,” agrees working mum Amber.
Set screen-free periods and talk about your day instead. “Consider when they’re using devices – before school and sleep time can be problematic,” Dr Goodwin notes.
Use pre-installed settings and apps to help manage your child’s screen time, as well as monitor what they’re doing on devices and keep content age-appropriate.
“Using Family Zone can help parents establish and enforce – that’s the tricky bit – how much time kids spend online,” Dr Goodwin offers. “Kids tend to argue a lot less with a device that’s telling them their screen time limit has expired than they do with Mum or Dad!”
Happy Family Mobile Plans by Woolworths Mobile make it easy to keep your family connected – with flexible plans that help protect your kids online>>. In short, they’re made to keep everyone happy.