These days, there are many apps, games, and online videos that are intended to entertain and educate young children. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over the age of two should have screen time for no more than two hours a day. This includes traditional television as well as tablets, smartphones, and computers.
Here are some tips to ensure your child understands that tablets and computers are just one part of daily life.
Lead by example
You’re well aware of how often your child observes and imitates your words and actions, and your relationship to your tablet or phone is no different. In our busy world, avoiding your own devices is likely not easy. However, try to reduce your screen time around your child, and let your child see you look at your device briefly and put it away. This will help them understand that the device is not the most important thing.
Offer your child a more interesting alternative
Your child is less likely to give up their entertaining tablet if the alternative is something they don’t enjoy. Enforce your limit on screen time by giving them something to look forward to, such as a trip to the playground. However, try to avoid using screen time as a reward or punishment.
Don’t rely on gadgets to calm or distract your child
It can be tempting to hand over your phone if your child is beginning to have a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. However, this can create a dependency on the device. Instead, help your child practice other ways to regulate their emotions, such as talking about their feelings or playing a game like I Spy.
Create family screen-free times
Having specific times when the whole family puts away their tablets and turns off the TV will help your child see that screens do not rule daily life. Some examples of screen-free times are during dinner, an hour before bed, or weekend afternoons. If it’s possible, enjoying a family activity during this time will help your child to see that screens aren’t the only source of fun.
Investigate apps that have screen time in mind
While there are some apps and games that a child can have seemingly unlimited access to, there are others that are designed with the parent in mind. Look for apps and games that you can set to turn off after a certain amount of time, or that you can pause remotely. This way, you will have more control over your child’s time with the device.
In today’s world, it can seem difficult to reduce the amount of screen time your young child receives. However, by setting an example, offering alternatives, setting family screen limits, and using technology to your advantage, you can show your child that electronic gadgets are just a small component of daily life.