Kids and Technology: How To Set Boundaries

Parenting

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Technology changes so quickly today; it can be hard to know when enough is enough. A half hour of TV was a common rule when 30-something parents were kids. What happens now when kids can leave the TV and go directly to a laptop, tablet or smartphone? Let’s look at some guidelines to help navigate through the ever-growing digital landscape.

Screen Time Recommendations

The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time per day for children between 2 and 5 years old. Screen time is the total amount of time spent watching television or using/watching any electronic device.

While interactive games are mentally beneficial for the child, they still count towards screen time. NAEYC notes that studies have correlated excessive screen time with the early onset of childhood obesity. The association does confirm that technology can be incredibly useful as an educational tool. If your child is going to spend more than 2 hours per day using an electronic device, make sure it’s in the name of furthering their education.

How to Set Boundaries

So how do you limit that time and make sure the time is used wisely? One Creative Mommy has some great advice on how to set those limits. Make sure the kids earn their technology time: set expectations for what they have to do before they get the privilege of watching television or playing a game on the device. Whether it’s chores, homework or practicing an instrument, set the expectations and be consistent with them.

Net Nanny has some good tips, too, for kids (and adults!) who have a hard time setting boundaries with screen time. A big tip is to just turn the wifi off and limit the data plan on your phone, essentially forcing a disconnect for those that find it hard to really walk away from devices.

Elizabeth Foss recommends setting a specific cut off time and moving all portable devices to your bedroom for the evening. TVs go off for the evening at the same time. This is a great incentive for kids to get their chores/homework/other pre-screen time activities done early so they can get their full screen time. If the cut off time comes before their full allotment of screen time, everything still gets turned off.

Just like many subjects where children and parents may be at odds, discussion about the why behind your decisions is always important. Saying no to extra TV time is saying yes to more family time. Saying no to unsupervised use of Facebook is saying yes to helping your kids stay out of the messy side of digital life.

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