Mandy Stopard

Child behaviour specialist

Child Behaviour Blog

Tips for Screen Time Management

little child girl play on smartphone at home

As I work alongside parents it usually becomes clear that electronic screens are a cause of concern and anxiety. Parents tend to feel ‘out of control’ as they see their children utterly engrossed in their own screen world, to what seems like an unhealthy degree. Mums and Dads wonder about how to tackle the issue and the limits they should place on their children. Depending on the age of the kids the advice will differ but establishing some sensible boundaries is important and we usually find that the following general approach works well:

  1. Know what your child is doing on their device. Educate yourself and make sure you are happy with their activity. Remember that whatever they experience on the screen will have some kind of impact, so beware of ‘junk’ or anything which could cause upset. Monitor what’s happening and join in/show interest in their activity. Start early to minimise teenage problems. Keep the lines of communication open with all things technological as your children grow up, listening to them non-judgementally and showing understanding when they express an opinion (this doesn’t mean they have to get what they want regarding device use)
  2. Research shows that not having access to the digital world has a negative impact so don’t be tempted to impose an outright ban. Keep things in perspective – some screen activities can be beneficial.
  3. Ensure your child or teenager has balance in their lives and screen time doesn’t dominate. Excessive device use can affect sleep, health and mood
  4. Model the preferred behaviour – keep your own screen time within boundaries so that interaction with the family isn’t hampered
  5. Keep screens out of bedrooms – the content of screen time and the light emitted can be responsible for poor sleep – with consequences for learning, health and behaviour
  6. Consider a rule: ‘no screens during mealtimes and other family time, such as when we need to talk, play games or do activities together’
  7. Avoid allowing screen time as part of the bedtime routine and don’t allow it to replace reading time. Reading with a child is extremely beneficial, especially for language and emotional development – more so than screen time
  8. Set limits on screen time, the same way as other limits are set. Calmly speak to your child about the rules (and the reasons behind them) when he/she is calm and responsive (and not already engrossed on a device). Then stay calmly consistent. You can always change the rules after careful consideration (but not as a result of ‘pester power’)
  9. As your child makes a move to play on an electronic device tell them how long they can have (do this before they start and when they are still listening to you), and then stick to it. As they play, calmly and clearly remind them on a couple of occasions how long they have left.
  10. When they come off their screen try to make the follow-up activity as attractive as possible. Your attention can be important at this point. Make their off-screen life as interesting as you can (at least in the immediate aftermath of the exciting game or YouTube video). Attempt to have some family fun in the non-digital world!

Does this post resonate with you?

Contact me today, I have a proven track record of gaining success in changing behaviour. I have a wealth of experience, and my advice is based on positive and respectful management of children with appropriate boundary setting.
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