7 Tips to managing screen time and technology for your child
As parents, at times, all you need is a little breather away from your children after a long day of work. In this digital age, it is common for parents to hand over their digital devices just to get a little quiet time away from the kids. While this can give you some time away, too much screen time for your child can be detrimental to their development and growth.
However, screen time and the use of technology can be part of a healthy lifestyle when there is a balance with other activities which are good for your child’s development.
1. Create boundaries for screen time
Set some boundaries for your child before handing the phone over to them. A parenting and family coach and digital literacy educator says ‘Giving children advance notice may help.’ This could help curb any possible tantrums and meltdowns, as you give your child the opportunity to ease into the next activity.
You can come up with rules about screen time and the use of technology. For example, setting family rules like, ‘No using TV, computers and phones during meal times’. This is important as limited screen time can have a positive impact on a child, socially, physically and mentally.
3. Aim for lesser screen time
It is good for your child to have short screen time sessions and take breaks in between. For example, YouTube allows a user to manage their screen time in the app. According to a Straits Times article, Infants (0 to 1 year) should not have any screen time. For Toddlers younger than 18 months, screen time is not recommended. As for those above 18 months, screen time should be limited to less than one hour per day. For preschoolers (3 to 7 years), it is recommended that limited recreational screen time should only be less than one hour per day.
Too much screen time could affect the level of sleep quality your child might get. Additionally, studies show that too much screen time can affect the amount of time it takes your child to fall asleep. This may reduce the quality of their sleep and affect their attentiveness in school. Hence, avoid bringing technology in the bedrooms. Instead, you could snuggle up and tuck in your child with a good ol’ bedtime story instead.
You can help your child to balance the use of digital devices by encouraging other activities. Encourage your child to have indoor physical activity, or go to the playground instead of using their screens. Alternatively, you could also set up a play date with your child’s friends from child care. It is recommended that parents take an active role in ensuring that physical activity is part of a child’s daily routine.
According to Straits Times, it is recommended to have at least 30 minutes of physical activity spread throughout the day for infants. As for toddlers (1 to below 3), it is encouraged to have at least 180 minutes a day of physical activity of varying intensity. For example, running, climbing, balancing and walking. As for preschoolers (3 to below 7), it is recommended to have at least 180 minutes of physical activity throughout the day of which, at least 60 minutes should be of moderate intensity.
6. Set an example for your child
As much as it is tempting to set boundaries for your child and just go about using your devices, as parents, you need to remember that your child mimics and models your behaviour. If you start using your device the minute you get home, it would be tougher to enforce limited screen time for your child.
So, if you want your child to cultivate a healthy lifestyle with screen time and technology, you would have to model healthy screen habits too. Some ways to set an example for your child could be to further enforce screen free zones, meaning to turn off your phone during meal times. This could encourage communication between you and your child and also further strengthen the bond.
Also read: How to limit screen time for babies
7. Allow your child to earn their screen time
Allow your child to earn their screen time once they have completed their homework or household chores, or played outside. There are various ways to do so. For example, you could come up with a rule that homework takes priority. Once they have done their homework, you could reward them with screen time. This sets the tone that screen time comes as a reward and your child might not see it as an entitlement instead.
With all that said, just like everything else, screen time and the use of technology can be part of a healthy lifestyle when it is done in moderation.
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Auto, Hermes. “New Guidelines to Help Young Children Get Enough Sleep, Reduce Screen Time Exposure.” The Straits Times, 31 May 2022, https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/parenting-education/new-guidelines-to-help-young-children-get-enough-sleep-reduce-screen-time-exposure.
“Screen Time and Digital Technology Use for Children 2-5 Years: Tips for Balance.” Raising Children Network, 27 Oct. 2022, https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/play-learning/screen-time-healthy-screen-use/healthy-screen-time-2-5-years.
Lee, Katherine. “Less Screen Time Means a Healthier Mind and Body for Kids.” Verywell Family, Verywell Family, 27 Dec. 2021, https://www.verywellfamily.com/cut-kids-screen-time-for-health-621154#:~:text=Recently%2C%20studies%20have%20shown%20that,even%20improve%20their%20academic%20performance.
Holecko, Catherine. “Set Limits on Kids' Screen Time.” Verywell Family, https://www.verywellfamily.com/set-limits-on-kids-screen-time-1256983.
Peracchia, Sara, and Giuseppe Curcio. “Exposure to Video Games: Effects on Sleep and on Post-Sleep Cognitive Abilities. A Sistematic Review of Experimental Evidences.” Sleep Science, Sleep Science, 1 Jan. 1970, http://sleepscience.org.br/details/529.
Teresa, and Jenny. “6 Smart Tips for Setting Screen-Time Boundaries.” MomsWhoSave.com, 19 Oct. 2022, https://momswhosave.com/tips-for-setting-screen-time-boundaries/