The holidays are upon us, which means your kids will be spending more time at home enjoying their winter break. This, in turn, equals more screen time. As a parent, you don’t want to be the screen time police every time your child picks up a gadget, but you also don’t want them to be glued to their device 24/7. The question becomes: how to limit screen time during the holidays?
While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends one hour of screen time with high-quality programs for kids ages 2-5, the lines are a bit blurred for those over the age of six. The AAP advises parents to “place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.”
“Consistent limits” can be interpreted in many different ways. If you’re unsure how to tackle screen time during the holidays, consider these tips Parentology gathered from the folks at educational technology company GoGuardian.
Set Up Family Guidelines
If kids feel as though they’re part of the conversation when it comes to screen time, they may be more willing to work on guidelines as a family. Sit down and talk about what everyone thinks is reasonable when it comes to the amount of screen time.
Ben Shahbaz, father of a four- and eight-year-old, tells Parentology that during the week his eldest son is only able to have his iPad after his homework is done.
“I also have the tablet shut down at 8 p.m.,” Shahbaz says. “On the weekend, access to the iPad isn’t available until 7 a.m.”
Follow whatever guidelines are put in place as part of your family discussion about screen time. As adults, we can become attached to our devices just as much as kids.
“I think it’s important to set the example for kids as it relates to tech and device usage to show them it’s one thing to experience life through a screen, but an entirely different thing to experience it firsthand,” Brannon Means, IT Manager at Go Guardian and father of a 2-year-old tells Parentology.
Another piece of advice: leave tablets and devices home during family events and gatherings. This is time that should be spent with people, not gadgets.
Establish a Family Zone
For many families, this means no phones, television or computers during dinner time. Commit to spending 30-40 minutes just talking at the table, minus the screens. This is something Elizabeth Dadanian did as her kids were growing up, which made a great impact on them.
“To this day, my daughter asks her friends to stack their phones at the end of the table whenever they go out to eat,” Dadanian says.
Use Parental Controls
Take advantage of parental controls on devices. You can set the amount of time you want your child to spend on their device. A simple trip into the device’s settings should do the trick.
Start a Mandatory Fun Time Minus the Screens
For some kids, it’s hard for them to imagine having fun without having a screen in front of them. Set up 1-2 hours of fun time where no devices are allowed. If it’s not too cold out, take time to play outside.
If Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, Andrew Ardisone, father of three, suggests letting kids use their imagination to build forts and draw. The key is to let kids use their imaginations, not their screens.