It’s important that you have healthy habits for kids when it comes to the amount of time they spend in front of a screen. As educational as TV, video games and the internet can be, too much screen time can have unhealthy side effects.
It is recommended that kids under the age of two have no screen time. Kids older than two should watch no more than 1 – 2 hours of quality programming a day.
Your children should have a wide variety of activities that don’t include a screen. Reading, playing with friends, sports, arts and crafts are a vital part of development. These activities encourage development in the body and mind that TV, video games and the internet don’t.
Here are ten useful ways to implement healthy habits for your kids with regards to screen time:
1. Non-Screen Entertainment
Be sure the room where you have your TV is stocked with plenty of other non-screen entertainment (books, kids’ magazines, board games, puzzles and colouring books). This will encourage them to do something other than watch TV.
2. No TV in the Bedroom
Never put a TV in your childrens’ bedrooms. It’s harder to control the amount of TV they’re watching.
3. No TV During Meals
Don’t have the TV on during meals. Rather sit at the table and encourage conversation. This helps with conversational development and it gives you the time to teach table manners.
4. No TV During Homework
Never allow your child to watch TV while doing homework. It’s a distraction and their full attention cannot be given to their work. The TV will always win and homework will take twice as long to complete.
5. Treat TV, Video Games and the Internet as a Privilege
This way your kids learn that they need to earn screen time; it’s not something they’re entitled to. Make them understand that these are only allowed to be watched once they have completed their chores and homework.
6. Try banning TV During the Week
Schoolwork, sports and other activities should take priority. Making family time during the week is tricky enough without the distraction of TV and video games. Rather record weekday shows you all enjoy and save them for family time on the weekends.
7. Limit Your Own TV Time
One of the best ways to create healthy habits around screen viewing is to limit your own. If your kids see that you don’t spend a lot of time on your computer and in front of the TV, they won’t want it all the time.
8. Protect Your Children
Be sure to set blocks and passwords on your TV, kids’ PlayStations and computers. This way they can’t go on to them whenever they want. This also protects them from seeing content that you don’t want them to see.
9. Talk to your Kids about the Dangers of the Internet
If your children are older and use the internet, be sure to sit them down and explain that they should never disclose their personal information. Addresses, phone numbers, school names and photos should never be shared.
10. Check for Ratings and Restrictions
With video games, it’s important to check the ratings, but don’t rely on this exclusively. The game’s rating might not match what you think is appropriate for your kids. Preview the games or even play them to get an accurate idea of what they’re like.