7 ways to make your children’s screen time safe and productive
Let’s chat about your kids’ screen time. Before we dive into do’s and don’ts, consider Michael Rich’s statement: “Screens are not inherently toxic. They’re neutral. It’s what we do with them that matters.” Rich is a Child Psycholgist who runs the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital. Pondering that, we think the most important thing you can do is to not make screens a big deal. Putting too much emphasis on not using it can have a reverse effect and never allowing it can make kids go crazy once they are able to do so on their own.
Here are 7 ways to make your children’s screen time safe and productive in a healthy manner:
- Utilize settings. Not only can you turn off location based settings in apps for safety and use other parental controls, but you can also turn on screen time usage. Here’s step by step processes for your apple devices and how it can limit time. We love this because “it is what it is” and doesn’t make you the bad guy when screen time is over.
- Set boundaries. Schedule in screen time if you have to and stick to it! You can use your Hearth Display to do so and make it visible on your children’s routines, so they can check themselves when it is “time.” Establishing time for screens and time for other things will help your kids form good habits, which will help later on when it is at their own discretion.
- Include learning. Introduce your child to screen time options that make them think. Tech can be used for good and there are a lot of learning apps out there that are fun too. Remember that the occasional scroll or show isn’t bad, but try to mix it up.
- Reward occasionally. Kids are motivated by rewards, so it is okay to offer extra screen time or a “late night” when they have earned it. Perhaps give them options of different rewards once they’ve reached a goal so screen time isn’t the only option. Could be an ice cream night, a pack of stickers, or 30 minutes of screentime. Letting them choose is great for development and not putting the sole focus on tech let’s them know that you can value other things. Hearth Display has a rewards tracker so you don’t have to keep up with it, plus it allows them to visualize their next treat.
- Encourage Socials. When enjoying screen time, there are actually games where your kids can interact with others. When schools were closed down during the height of the pandemic, this was sometimes the only way kids could enjoy time with their friends. While in-person cognitive abilities are important, socializing in our digital age is changing and on-screen games are at the forefront of that. Don’t discount them!
- Single Use. If you are leery of traditional screens, try searching out single use devices. These can offer the benefits of screen time without the dangers or precautions of multi-use devices. Some options we like are LeapPad and VTech Tablets. Hearth is also a single use device, which we pride ourselves on.
- Watch for signs. It’s no secret that tech can cause irritability and stress in children. The pandemic proved this even more with virtual learning. Be on the lookout for signs of stress or headaches and help them navigate through them. Encourage breaks, movement, and sunlight… you know, the basics of being a kid! If they learn this now, they will take it with them as an adult and have a healthier relationship with screens moving forward.
Don’t forget to be a good role model and not be on your phone 24/7. You can implement rules all you want, but you are a walking, talking example to your kids and can help them the most when it comes to healthy boundaries with tech. Go ahead and implement structure for your entire family while you’re at it. Check out our post on making the most of your family’s screen time for more guidance in this area.
If you liked this article, check out all of our other “how to” posts here.