Do you feel guilty about the amount of time your kids spend on the screen?You want to have some screen time rules for kids but don’t know how?
If you said yes, then know, you’re not alone. This is one of the big issues that I hear from the moms that I work with. Most of them have not established screen time rules for kids.
I know that screen time is a big problem. We hear all these scary stats of what it is doing to our kid’s brains etc. And often it feels like you are damned if you do make screen time rules for kids and damned if you don’t. Whatever you do, someone will find something to moan about!
So, I wanted to share what works for us so that you can use it as well if you so wish.
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Getting real and tracking screen time accurately
The first thing is making sure that you are using the screentime tracker, most gadgets have this built it. It tells you how long you’ve been using which app. From using that we can see when we’ve had a good week or not so good week. Also, whether there are any patterns we need to be worried about.
It might be that the weather has been absolutely awful. In addition to this, we’ve been locked down with not a lot else to do. Therefore, screen time has gone up.
Or it’s been that my son has gotten really into researching something, game theory, or whatever it is he is into at the time. And that is the reason why there is more than usual screen time.
Being able to check which apps are being used? whether they are good or bad apps? Really helps to open the conversation.
Rather than just saying “you’ve been on too long”, they can visually see that they have been on the screen for too long and exactly what they have been doing.
Take apps to help to track screen time
Now I do have a neat little exercise that you can do which makes the conversation flow easier. You can download it at the bottom of the post.
This is where you use a bucket. You can see how much time they’ve used throughout the day. It’s very, very visual. Therefore, they can see how much time compared to the 24 hours that they spend sleeping and eating and schooling, etc., and how much they use on the screen.
For most kids, it’s a great visual learning tool, especially those who need help with the concept of time.
We also use the functions that stop the device being used between certain hours and reminders if we go over our daily limit. Even Facebook has this function although not many people seem to know about it!
If your kids are tweens or older, I highly recommend sitting down and watching The Social Dilemma with them. It will open the door to all kinds of conversations, important ones! If your kids are not that old yet, watch it anyway, for those who are not working in tech, it is quite the eye-opener!
Why Creativity Over Consumption Is Important
The second thing is that we emphasise creativity over consumption. That means any apps that are used for learning, watching TED Talks, for instance, Skillshare videos, actual educational apps, anything like that goes under creativity.
Anything that is just basically cat videos, social media, hello Facebook! Watching but not learning and implementing a skill, that gets filed under “consuming”.
Our rule is, and this goes for everybody in the house, that we need to be creating more than we’re consuming.
And that gives a good balance really. It allows for some mindless unboxing or cats videos but also learning how to use video editing or drawing apps.
If they claim to be bored, that is good news, boredom breeds creativity – let them get bored! If they are driving you nuts and you have work to do, try these ideas.
Don’t Only Make Screen Time Rules For Kids But Have Family Screen Time Rules
The third and final thing is having family rules.
Now you can’t say to your kids, okay, “you’re only allowed on the screen for an hour, because you’re a kid”. And then you sit in sit there on Facebook three hours ignoring them. You know, that’s not fair.
And the kids are going to be thinking, why?
Why can’t I use the screen? It’s going to build resentment and that will never end well.
So instead of only having kids screen time rules have family screen time rules. That you sit down as a family and create.
Creating rules as a family
For us, there are our family rules:
- No screens, or phones or no TV, anything like that while we’re eating. Mealtimes are completely screen free. And this helps to create conversation, catching up on each others day etc. whilst we’re eating.
- No phones or gadgets in the bedroom overnight. If my son is playing Minecraft with a friend, then he’ll play in his bedroom. But when it comes to bedtime, the gadgets go in the charging station (we use this one, it’s great, everyone plugs in at night so we are all fully charged in the morning)
One of the big complaints I hear and I know you’re gonna say it, “but I use my phone as my alarm clock”, sorry, that is a sh*t excuse. Just buy an alarm clock, they are not that expensive.
Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock.
Then you can put in the rule that nobody has the phone in the bedroom because there’s no reason to have it in there!
About 72 percent of children ages six to 17 sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom, which leads to getting less sleep on school nights compared with other kids, according to their parents. The difference adds up to almost an hour per night, and the quality of snoozing is negatively affected too. – Sleep.org
Implement Gadget Free Zones To Reduce Screentime
The final rule we have is when it is or isn’t acceptable to be on a gadget/device. Again these rules are for the family and not just screen time rules for kids
If we’re watching a movie together or playing a board game, then no phones! Being intentional with our time and being focused on what we are doing. Not half-assed because that’s not fair to everyone else.
Switching focus is bad for kids
This comes from the productivity and mind focus research that I’ve done in the past, where switching from thing to thing is really bad for your brain. And it’s really not good for children’s brains to be switching constantly like that.
We want them to learn to focus and we want them to learn to concentrate on what they’re doing. So by inserting that rule, that there are no gadgets if something else is going on, really helps them to focus enjoy the activity at hand.
I’ve shared these rules with The Wonder Moms and other moms that I work with, and I know they are working for them too. It always works better if you call a family meeting and craft the rules together and the kids know that they can call you out too!
For kids that need a clear visual around time and screen usage, use the bucket measure in the PDF below…