10 Steps to Help Your Child Develop Healthy Habits for Screen Time

10 Steps to Help Your Child Develop Healthy Habits for Screen Time

Do you worry about the amount of time your child spends on digital devices?

Do they spend too much time in front of a screen, and not enough time outside playing with friends or exploring their environment?

It is important to create good habits around screen time for your kids. 10 Steps to Help Your Child Develop Healthy Habits for Screen Time

We all know that children learn best when they are active - the key is to find a balance between using screens and getting out into the world!

In this blog post, we are going to share 10 steps that will help your child develop healthy habits around screen use.

These tips will encourage them to go outside more often while still having some fun inside on their device:

1. Set time limits for screen time 

Technology has the potential to be very beneficial for children, but it is also important that they get enough time away from screens.

When you're working with your child on their screen time limits and expectations, consider setting age-appropriate goals: 30 minutes a day of educational games or videos might be more manageable than an hour for younger kids.

Teens may benefit from longer periods without digital devices, especially if they are socializing with friends in person instead!

Make sure they know how much extra sleep will help them stay healthy throughout adolescence (we recommend around nine hours per night).

Don't forget about yourself when talking about device use - make sure parents set good examples by putting down our own phones every once in a while!

Be realistic and communicate your expectations to your child, so they know what is expected of them.

2. Limit the number of hours your child is allowed to watch TV or play video games per day 

Research has shown that the more time a child spends in front of a screen, the worse they sleep.

This is because screens emit blue light that disturbs melatonin production - which tells us it's time for bed!

Additionally, children who spend less than two hours per day using digital devices are 24% less likely to be overweight or obese; conversely, those who spent more than three hours watching TV were 26% more likely to be overweight.

The bottom line: limit your child's total amount of daily device use and encourage them to get moving instead.

3. Designate a place in the house where your child is not allowed to use screens

The bedroom is always a good place to start since it's the most important room in any home.

Kids need plenty of sleep for their growth and development - make sure they get enough shut-eye by limiting screen time before bedtime.

In addition to setting up tech-free zones at night, try creating some tech-free areas during the day - this will help your child stay focused on tasks that require more mental energy instead of leaning towards digital distractions all the time.

You can also look into apps or devices designed specifically to monitor usage so you have peace of mind about how much time they are spending online.

There are even schools using this technology these days...if your kids spend too much time playing games on their devices when they should be studying, it might be time to consider bringing this up with their teachers.

4. Encourage family bonding by doing activities together

It's not just about limiting the time your child spends in front of screens - it's also important to encourage them to get out there and do things together!

Designate some fun family activities that don't involve devices, like playing board games or taking a hike.

You can even try setting up screen-free zones around common areas at home if needed (i.e., no TV during meal times).

Make sure everyone is on the same page by checking with the other adults who live in your household before creating these rules; sometimes siblings will use their own unique system for device usage without consulting each other first.

Try tracking how much you all are using digital devices throughout the day so you have concrete data to look back on later.

5. Create a reward system with incentives tied to screen-time privileges 

Try setting up some sort of system where your child gets a reward for staying within their screen time limits; this will help them see the benefits that come with less device usage and encourage better habits.

You can use stickers or stars to track good behavior, then build upon small milestones like getting one sticker/star per day (or week depending on how much you need to limit their access).

Try using these positive reinforcements as an opportunity to teach kids about delayed gratification - i.e., they may not get something now but if they wait patiently, eventually it'll be waiting for them!

When creating goals around tech-time allowance, think about what works best for your particular family dynamic: younger children might do well with shorter times, while older kids might be able to handle a little more screen time as long as they meet certain criteria (e.g., completing their homework without distractions).

You can also create different types of rewards for those times when your child spends less than usual: maybe you'll take them out to see a movie or eat some ice cream together!

Sometimes, talking through these issues and coming up with solutions that work best on an individual level is the way to go.

Don't feel like you have to follow someone else's system - just do what works best for your family.

Also, keep in mind that it usually takes about 30 days of consistently sticking with new habits before they become ingrained into daily life; make sure everyone stays patient and focused during this period, especially if it's not going perfectly.

6. Establish consequences for bad behavior that are also related to screen-time

Consequences for bad behavior should be age-appropriate, so make sure you are staying within the limits of your child's maturity level.

For example, if you have a toddler who is acting out because they're not getting enough screen time during their day - try focusing on other alternatives that'll help them feel better instead (i.e., taking walks together or reading books).

You might even set up small rewards around good behaviors like picking up toys and putting clothes in the hamper before bedtime; this will show kids what to do when they want something different than more digital playtime.

Older children can appreciate having rules and consequences tied to their device use as well: depending on how much access they currently have, you might take away some privileges like device time or social media accounts for a certain amount of time if they break the rules.

You can always have them earn those privileges back by meeting specific criteria as well, so it's never too hard to start over again!

Again, everyone will need to be on board with these decisions and follow through consistently in order for this structure to work.

Try talking through your thoughts about screen-time limits together as a family so no one is surprised when changes happen - after all, there are going to be times where being flexible comes into play, but overall sticking with a plan that works best long-term will help build good habits around screens from an early age.

7. Don't allow children under 18 months old to have any access to screens at all

It's not developmentally appropriate for their age - at the very least, your child should be at least 18 months old before they can start interacting with screens.

While there might be some benefits to digital play in certain circumstances (e.g., if you're traveling and need something that'll occupy them), know that this is a time when children are making huge cognitive leaps - learning how to talk, walk, etc.

It'll actually benefit their development more if they aren't spending long periods of time staring at devices; babies under 18 months old shouldn't have access to any kind of screen because their visual pathways haven't fully developed yet so all those bright lights will just overwhelm them and could potentially cause eye strain.

With all the other developmental milestones they're working on, digital play doesn't really fit in yet.

Basically, if you have a newborn or infant - don't buy anything that can lay flat until you know it's developmentally appropriate for their age! If screen time is important to your family (and you aren't concerned about putting them at risk), wait until your child approaches 18 months old before introducing any devices into their life.

8. Limit the amount of social media apps on devices

It's really easy to get carried away and download every app imaginable when you first start using a device, especially if it belongs to your child.

However, this can be overwhelming for kids who aren't used to having so many options; they might not know what apps are best suited for their age or interest level (and that's okay - no one expects them to).

At the same time, though, you don't want them getting into all kinds of content either because there is some stuff out there that isn't developmentally appropriate.

You should only allow access to devices with social media accounts like Instagram and Facebook once children have reached a certain maturity level: these sites will let users create profiles where anyone can see pictures and information about the user, even if they don't follow them.

If children are going to be using their account regularly or posting pictures of themselves, you'll want to make sure they're ready for the potential consequences and risks associated with sharing this type of information publicly (although it's a good idea not to let your child post anything at all until he or she is old enough).

In addition, social media apps have different age requirements as well: most sites will lock out users under 13 years old from signing up altogether because there hasn't been any formal research done on how these platforms affect younger populations just yet.

Basically, only install those apps that can help kids achieve what they need - whether that means staying in touch with family members who live far away or getting to know their classmates without having to actually go into school.

As long as you're aware of the content and maturity levels, it's okay to be selective about which social media apps children can use on devices; this will make it easier for them to stay focused and productive because they won't get distracted by other options that aren't right for them yet.

9. Set up parental controls on devices

If you haven't already, then it's important for parents to set up parental controls on all of their child's devices.

Setting these types of controls will help your kids be creative and learn how to use technology responsibly; if they can access whatever they want whenever they want (especially when children are younger), there won't be any consequences or boundaries assigned around what kind of content is appropriate vs. inappropriate for them - which might not always show the best results.

By setting rules with filters, time limits, etc., you'll make sure that everything stays age-appropriate while still giving kids some freedom with their screen time at home so that they don't feel like just another task in your busy day! It may seem frustrating or complicated at first, but you'll be surprised by how quickly kids adapt to the new system and start following it without any problems.

In addition, having parental controls in place will make it easier for parents to monitor what their child is doing online as well: if they notice a website that isn't appropriate for them right now (e.g., because of age-inappropriate language), then this can help stop inappropriate behavior before it happens too.

Just remember - always communicate with your children about why certain sites are blocked so that there aren't any misunderstandings or assumptions made around these rules!

There's no point in setting up boundaries if kids don't know what those rules are from the beginning; otherwise, they might do things they aren't supposed to or use devices in ways that they shouldn't (e.g., spending all day on their social media accounts instead of doing something productive with their time).

10. Create an offline activity list

Finally, you should make an offline activity list for kids to follow when they don't have access to devices.

Brainstorm different types of things that children could do instead of sitting around staring at screens - this will help them be more creative and develop new skills as well!

For example, some activities that are great choices include practicing musical instruments, playing with pets or other animals in the house (e.g., going on walks with your cat), doing puzzles, drawing pictures together as a family, learning how to cook something new without following any recipes so that there's more room for the creativity involved, etc.

The possibilities here are endless; basically, anything can work if it's engaging enough for kids!

On top of helping children learn about themselves and the world around them, these types of offline activities can also strengthen family bonds - especially if kids are doing something that parents enjoy as well.

And again, it's not about banning technology altogether or never letting your children have fun with devices; rather, this is more about setting boundaries so that everything stays age-appropriate and where children can get more creative without spending too much time in front of screens!

It may seem challenging at first to find good screen time habits for kids online (especially because there hasn't been any formal research done on how social media platforms affect younger populations just yet), but by using some of these tips, you'll be able to create a safe digital environment for your child helping them develop healthy habits for their screen time.

Wrapping up:

If screens are taking over your life, it's time to make some changes. Consider setting limits on the number of hours per day that your child is allowed to watch TV or play video games.

Make sure they have a designated space in the house where they're not allowed to use their screen devices which will help prevent them from being tempted by friends who are also using screens all day long.

The key takeaway here is that you need to be intentional about how much screen time you allow for yourself and those around you because if we don't establish boundaries now, there won't be any natural consequences later when our kids grow up glued to their phones at dinner with us trying desperately to talk with them about what's happening in their lives.