This is the second of two parts on the topic of screen time for children. In last week's blog post, we considered the addictive nature of access to technology. Today's post focuses on how parents can create a strategy at home.
So how do we get out in front of our obsession with screen time to be able to understand its magnitude? It may take some tracking and personal reflection.
Fortunately, there are apps available that monitor screen time usage and the breakdown of time spent on specific media allowing you to hone in on areas of concern. With these programs you could separate your time on Snapchat verse listening to a podcast or audiobook. Moment and BreakFree both have lifestyle balance at the core of its mission promoting a healthy relationship with technology. BreakFree says on average, people check their phones 110 times per day. Breaking these patterns requires attention to the problem and an ability to focus on individual habits.
Changing habits starts with awareness
Bringing attention to how we engage with technology and its impact is the first start to developing a plan of action in your household. It is imperative that adults serve as positive role models and consider the power of learned behavior when it comes to technology use. While children and teens are privileged in many ways with the pros of technology, it’s critical for adults to highlight the benefits we reaped when technology wasn’t such a prominent force, and provide opportunities for our youth to happily engage in the world in the absence of technology.
Parent tips for screen-time management:
- Provide an opportunity for your child to process their emotional state when engaged in technology usage whether it’s video games, social media or even something like taking selfies.
- Have your child chart their mood throughout the week and then look at how it correlates with their technology usage.
- Model appropriately technology use and instill a “digital sunset” in your home.
- Educate your child on technology’s influence on the brain.
- Set aside time for your family to engage in activities without the use of technology.
- Remind your child that you closely monitor their technology usage and can access anything they do on their device.
- Ensure your child shares with you passwords and usernames with any online accounts they create.
- Provide opportunities for your child to practice their social skills (eye contact, body language, tone) without the use of technology.
By Jay Cooper