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10 Tips for Setting Limits on Electronics and Screen Time for Kids

Make Your Expectations Clear About TV, Cell Phones, Computers and Video Games

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10 Tips for Setting Limits on Electronics and Screen Time for Kids

Today's technology makes it more important than ever for parents to be setting limits on screen time.

Image courtesy of Stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are lots of reasons why it is important to establish electronics rules for kids. However, many parents aren’t sure how to go about setting limits with TV, cell phones, video games, computers and other technological devices.

In addition to your house rules, kids and teenagers need specific rules with their electronics. Follow these tips to help you establish healthy guidelines for your children’s use of entertainment media.

1. Model Healthy Electronic Use

It’s important to role model the behavior you want to see from your kids. Therefore, monitor your own electronic use to ensure you are setting a good example. If you’ve always got the TV on or you find yourself spending hours on the computer, don’t expect your child to behave any differently.

2. Educate Yourself on Electronics

Today’s kids are technologically savvy and the vast majority of them know more than most adults about various electronic devices. However, it’s important for parents to be up-to-date on the latest cell phone app or the newest social media craze.

Educate yourself about technology and media by conducting research. Subscribe to newsletters or forums to help you connect with other parents to discuss ways to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

3. Create “No Technology Zones”

It can be helpful to establish zones in your house where you just don’t allow technological devices such as TVs, laptops, or video games. For example, the dining room can be a great technology-free zone that is reserved for meals and family conversation.

4. Establish Unplugged Time Frames

Set aside times for the entire family to become unplugged from technological devices. For example, the dinner hour or an hour before bedtime can be great times for the entire family to have quality time together without TV, video games and computers.

5. Use Parental Controls

Protect kids from explicit content on TV and online. Use parental controls that allow you to monitor what your children are viewing on TV and what they’re doing online.

6. Talk to Kids About Risks

It’s important for kids to have a good understanding about the risks of too much screen time. Kids who understand, “It’s not healthy to watch too much TV,” are less likely to try and break the rules compared to kids who seem to think the only reason there are rules is because, “My parents are mean.”

In an age appropriate manner, explain how violent video games, movies and images can be harmful to kids. Also, discuss potential dangers of online predators. Discuss how you can work together as a family to reduce potential risks.

7. Obtain Your Child’s Passwords

Depending on your child’s age and your values, it may make sense to obtain your child’s passwords to any social media accounts or online accounts. It can also be important to establish rules about social media and what services you’ll allow your child to participate in.

Many children lack the maturity needed to handle online problems, such as cyberbullying. Therefore, it’s important for parents to really take responsibility for helping their child stay physically and emotionally safe if they are going to use social media.

8. Encourage Other Activities

Kids are so used to using technology that they’re sometimes stumped about what to do when they’re unplugged. Encourage your children to become involved with other activities and to develop other interests outside of video games and social media.

Encourage participation in sports, clubs, volunteer activities or music to help them focus on something other than electronics.

9. Use Screen Time as a Privilege

Screen time should be a privilege and not a right. Take away privileges, such as TV time or computer use, as a negative consequence. Once you’ve set a limit on how much screen time is allowed, don’t allow kids to earn extra time as a reward. Instead, stick to the daily limit and offer other free or low cost rewards.

10. Don’t Allow Screen Media in Your Child’s Bedroom

It’s impossible to monitor a child’s screen media use if it’s allowed in the bedroom. Don’t allow your child to have a TV, video game system or computer in his room. This includes hand-held devices that many children use late at night, which can interfere with their sleep.

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