Disclosure:: This post is sponsored by Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health.
5 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Screen Habits
Even during normal times it’s a challenge to manage how much time your kids spend playing video games and scrolling apps, but two months of home lock-down has made it even tougher.
With summer almost here, kids will be as tempted as ever to curl up with the digital device of choice and spend too many staring at screens.
The good news is there are things you as a parent can do to improve your kids’ screen habits. In fact, it’s vital that you make sure they develop healthy screen habits or they’re at greater risk for obesity, sleep and behavioral problems and difficulty in school.
These five tips will promote healthier screen habits:
- Adopt healthy habits yourself.
Kids watch everything we do, and I do mean everything. So, it’s crucial to model healthy habits for kids. That means making a point not to lose yourself in your own mobile device, don’t allow cell phones at the dinner table and agree as a family to turn off screens after a certain hour.
- Flip the script.
Rather than making screen time limits the subject of your conversations, focus on the time kids spend doing other things.
Require kids to spend at least an hour per day of physical play or exercise, or to read. Even playing board games as a family is a good way to reduce screen time. We know that kids who are engaged in a well-balanced routine are less likely to fall into bad screen habits.
- Monitor what’s on their screens.
Technology opens a world of content to kids, much of it age-inappropriate. It’s up to parents to monitor and curate content and social media access. Discuss and explain your expectations when it comes to content. Use features built into the technology such as browsing history to follow-up. You don’t need to be hovering like a helicopter parent, but follow-up is important.
- Make sleep a priority.
Kids need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night, and very young kids need even more. Make sure your kids are physically active during the day to help them sleep better. Sleep hygiene is important as well. Establish and stick to consistent bedtimes, and shut off all screens at least an hour before bedtime.
- Spend family time together.
Families who make the most of unexpected time together by planning fun activities have more fun. Bike rides or nature walks together promote physical health, and board games challenge kids mentally while bringing the family closer. Make the most of the time you have.
Dr. Reuben Battley is a pediatrician with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health who specializes in adolescent medicine.