Electronics are an inseparable part of our daily lives–we spend a large portion of our day looking at screens. Our phones act as alarm clocks that wake us up. What is the first thing you look at in the morning? Maybe it’s the laundry list of notifications on your phone screen. Before you go to bed at night, maybe you spend some time watching media on your phone, tablet or TV. As electronics become more ubiquitous in our own lives, our children are learning from us. According to a UC Sanfrancisco study, adolescents’ time spent on screens doubled over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Extended time spent on screens can cause mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Too much time spent on social media can affect children’s view of reality, peers, and their own self-confidence.
Access to electronics isn’t all bad–they’re important tools for learning and entertainment. Electronic literacy is a key skill for the future. However, it’s important to let kids be kids, which means limiting screen time. Children have time to go outside, explore the world around them, and use their imaginations. Physical playtime is a crucial part of childhood development! It teaches toughness, creativity, and fearlessness. Here are xx ways to limit your kids’ time spent on electronics.
Set Clear Goals, Have Expectations
It’s important to let your kids know why screen time should be limited–it's for their own good! Explain to your kids why it's important to slash screen time. Then, set clear boundaries of how often, and when they can use electronics. If it’s two or three hours per day, hold them to it. If you don’t want to jump straight to limiting them to two hours, then cut electronics time in increments to ease the transition.
“No Phone Zones”
Encourage your family to cut back on electronics by having “No Phone Zones.” This is a place that is reserved for connecting with each other face to face, and giving each other full attention. Your “No Phone Zone” could be the dinner table, for example. At family meals, no phones allowed! You could make their bedroom a “No Phone Zone,” which would encourage them to spend time in common areas around family, even if they are on electronics.
Take Your Kids On Adventures
It’s important to encourage your children to engage with the world on their own terms. Take your kids on a fun adventure outside, and instil in them a sense of curiosity and exploration! Take them on a hike or camping trip to connect with nature, or take them to the park to let out all of their pent-up energy. Experiences like this are important for children–they show our kids how interesting and fun the world is outside of their phones.
Make Technology A Privilege, Not A Right
Kids might feel like they have the right to their electronics–you have them, the neighbour has them, all their friends have them. But it’s important to establish a privilege-based relationship with electronics. It’s something that they get on the condition of behaving and obeying. Discipline them through negative consequences for negative actions. If your child misbehaves–take the phone away, or limit screen time.
Don’t Multitask With Electronics
Studies show that multitasking electronics, i.e. texting or using social media while watching TV, cripples concentration, memory, and productivity. To be able to focus is an important skill–one that an improper relationship with electronics can severely hurt! So, encourage your kids (and yourself) to focus on one thing at a time. If you’re watching a movie as a family–no phones. If you’re having a conversation with somebody, no phones!
Lead By Example
It’s important to set a good example for your kids. If they see you on your phone, tablet, or computer all day long, they'll want to mimic your behaviour. Are you also overusing electronics? Be a leader, and lead by example! If your kids see you making a sacrifice, they will feel better about it themselves.