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MAINTAIN CONTROL OF SCREEN TIME FOR KIDS
The lives of our young people are increasingly immersed into a world of screens, video games and mobile devices, and with that often comes a fear of the obsessive or addictive nature that they pose. There is certainly much to fear about our relationship with screens, but there are also many ways we can benefit and thrive from our use of the technology. Setting up some good boundaries early, staying up to date with what the technology is capable of and ensuring you are providing plenty of balanced ways to play and learn, will help keep their screen time manageable and something they can continue to control as they get older. Here are 4 ways we can help them do that.
BELOW ARE 4 WAYS TO HELP MAINTAIN CONTROL OF OUR KIDS SCREEN TIME:
1. Understand the battle
It is important parents know the beast they are dealing with. It is easy to shout from another room to get off a screen or whinge to our friends that ‘kids of today’ are all addicted to their phones. But we need to recognise the pull that many of these devices have. The social networks are made to keep us liking, commenting and sharing. The games cajole us in to having ‘just one more’ turn at being the last man standing. They tempt us to reach just one more level. Or scroll for just a few minutes more. Our brains experience a dopamine release and a sense of insufficiency when we use a device. There is always something else to do or something else to scroll through, or one more Youtube video to watch. So our kids are up against it when trying to control their time on a device. We need to help them with that.
2. Get outside and active
We can complain that kids never go outside and play anymore, but sometimes we have to physically get out there with them, or offer those opportunities where outside and active play is appealing. It may be sports and teams and community groups, but it doesn’t have to be. A nightly bike ride, a weekend hike up a mountain, a trip to the local pools. There are many ways we can incorporate activity into our daily lives. We may have to work a little harder at this today because we are competing with a device that answers many of our kids perceived needs. We need them to know there are so many other ways their needs must be met.
3. Have some rules
Despite their apparent dislike of rules around technology, kids will (one day) appreciate having boundaries to help them manage their screen time. Rules may be regarding time limits, devices in bedrooms, device free meal times etc. Whatever you decide is important, be sure that you have those discussions with your kids. And any discussion around rules or consequences should happen away from the screens, so they are clear on the expectations (talking about their screen time habits whilst they are just about to be the last man standing on Fortnite, is probably not going to make for engaging conversation). But just as we have rules around all manner of things that are important to our families, we must feel empowered to have those rules around the screens too.
4. Role Model
Make sure you are showing your kids how you want them to be. Set some rules for the whole family such as:
- Have times when the devices are put away and you give full attention to the people around you.
- Don’t answer calls or emails at the dinner table.
- Don’t fall asleep with a device landing on your forehead.
- Take time to get outside and do things active and in nature.
- Don’t ever use a phone whilst driving.
Use the screen time feature on the iOS products to monitor just how you are using the technology and whether you could be making some changes. Kids learn so much more from what we do than what we say.
We know the technology isn’t going anywhere, and we know there are many wonderful benefits the screens provide. But ensure that the precious hours of every day are filled with many different experiences and in ways that leave our kids in control, even if we have to work a little harder to give them that.
Martine is a mother to 5 boys with a background in secondary education and a Masters in Counselling. Through her personal and professional experience with families raising children today, she recognises the important role technology plays in the social and emotional wellbeing of young people. She has a passionate interest in helping families to safely navigate the modern world of parenting in a way that offers understanding as well as practical and realistic strategies. Martine is an accredited speaker with the Office of the eSafety Commission and has presented to numerous parent groups, schools and teachers. Regular workshops with young people also ensure Martine has the most up to date information and perspective on what it means to be a child growing up today. She is available to present to your school, organisation or workplace on all things related to digital wellbeing and online safety. www.themodernparent.net