How to restrict your child’s screen time

With the holidays coming up, the media is chock-full of advice on how you can restrict the screen time of your children. With all 3 major OS manufacturers touting methods on their operating systems (Microsoft -> Microsoft accounts, Google -> Digital Wellbeing and Apple -> Screentime), there is no shortage of avenues that the parent can take. This post isn’t about them.

There are some other methods in which parents can help ensure that their children are getting the benefits of technology. Here are a few that you could try during the holidays :-

  • Establish consistent “media free” times, particularly at meal times. (That means no hand-held games for older kids, or cell phones or iPads for grown-ups).
  • Make your own media. Give your child a low-cost digital camera and teach her how to plug it into your TV. This is a great way to review memorable events and can be a rich language experience for very young children, as they name family members from their last birthday party, for example.
  • Provide exciting non-tech options in your child’s life. Instead of trying to remove current media from your child’s life, continue to enrich her playtime with new, concrete, interesting alternatives, so your child will want to turn off the TV.

Having said that, media consumption on computers doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing approach. Computers and television can play a key role in helping children wind down and relax. For example, a half-hour session of Thomas the Tank Engine after dinner can help your 5 year old make the transition from dinner to bed time and this will be more beneficial than 3 hours of it on Saturday afternoons.