There is no doubt that in 2020, technology is an integral part of our kids’ lives. Technology use is mandated by many schools in the form of homework, online research and projects while there is also social expectations from peers to be active on social media. No matter why your child is engaging with technology, be it for fun, study or both, setting strict family rules around technology use can help kids develop a healthy relationship with technology. Here are 10 Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to screens and kids!
Screen time for children – DO
- Ensure that any shared computers in your house have age appropriate filters.
- Talk to your children about online safety and sharing personal information online.
- Children should be expected to share their passwords with their parents for full transparency and parents should consider joining whichever social platforms their child is on and ‘friend them’, in order to sensitively keep aware of your child’s online behaviour.
- Set aside ‘no screen times or zones. This could be meal times, during a particular family activity or during quality 1 to 1 time between you and your child.
- Institute an age appropriate curfew where phones are given to you to charge overnight (at least an hour before sleep time). This curfew could also take the format of notifications being muted and the device being put on do not disturb mode.
Screen time for children – DON’T
- Sit on your phone in front of your kids. Lead by example when it comes to your technology use. All kids, including teenagers, model off our behaviour and habits, and learn from a young age the place of technology at home and in life.
- Don’t ever let your child meet with someone they met online without a parent or trusted adult present. Predators can disguise themselves as friends of friends and make your child feel that they are a safe person to meet. Be aware of these dangers and make sure your child tells you if they plan to meet up with someone they met online.
- Don’t let your child fall asleep while on their phone. It can be helpful to encourage your children and teenagers to develop positive bedtime habits which will relax them and don’t involve screens.
- Insist on face to face dialogue with your child before and after school. With the amount of time kids are spending communicating online, children are forgetting how to function in society and in relationships in ‘real life’.
- Don’t leave your child alone on their phone or device without your supervision. Check in frequently to make sure that your child is not accessing sites that are inappropriate or are engaging or being targeted in cyber bullying. As parents, our responsibility to ensure that our children are physically and emotionally safe extends to their online world as well.
By setting firm boundaries, rules and expectations around screen use as well as modelling a healthy relationship with technology, parents can hope to establish in their children’s mind a clearer understanding of the place for technology in their lives and how to stay healthy, safe and connected in real time and in real life with those they love and care about.
Screen Time Tips from Ariella Lew
Ariella Lew is a highly qualified paediatric nurse and Director of Kids on Track Consultancy (kidsontrackconsultancy.com.au), a private practice based in Melbourne. Ariella consults both locally and overseas, providing expert advice and management strategies for families requiring support with their childs behavior, sleep and toilet training and family dynamics as well as providing strategies and advice for families of children with special needs.