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Tips to Help Manage Your Kid’s Screen Time

Manage Your Kid's Screen Time

Parenting has always been tough, but when you add in the proliferation of social media, it’s not getting easy any time soon. In fact, the devices that are capturing your child’s attention, laptops, tablets, or personal handheld device, are now also the tools for school. This means your kid is spending even more time in front of a screen than ever before. If you’re concerned about how much time your child is spending with their nose in a device, and you’re looking for strategies to control this dependency, here are a few things you can do to manage your kid’s screen time.

Tips to manage your kid’s screen time

    • 1) Parents need to set a good example

No matter how much your children makes you feel like they aren’t paying attention, the reality is that parents are the example they learn from. They are definitely taking in our example. Therefore, by demonstrating healthy screen habits early you improve the chances of your child modeling a healthy device behavior. Modelling good device behavior starts by not brining your phone to the dinner table, and shutting down all your devices before bed. Additionally, replace device time for an occasional book or an outdoor walk.

    • 2) Create no screen zones in the home

Another good tactic is to have designated places in your home where electronic devices are off limits. Two good places to start this practice are the kitchen and dinning room. No device zones help create distraction free places where where conversations happen.

    • 3) Keep devices out of your child’s bedroom

When your child is in their bedroom they are likely out of your sight. This makes strategies to manage your kid’s screen time more difficult. As a result, you should limit the devices that are allowed in your child’s bedroom. By limiting the smaller, handheld devices from use in the bedroom, you may find your child gets a better night’s sleep.

    • 4) Should screen time be a privilege?

Your child may think that using their device is a given. It’s theirs isn’t it? As the parent, make it clear to your child that electronic device use is not a right, rather, it’s a privilege. One that is earned. This is best employed if you start early, it’s much more difficult to change a practice years later. However, for parents who establish that devices are privileges, earned, they can get better behavior. You can include phones, laptops, and video games as items that are earned privileges.

    • 5) Encourage and involve your kid in tech-free activities

There was a time before all this tech, and in that bygone era kids always found a way to have fun. Encourage your child to try out a new hobby, such as drawing, nature watching, or puzzles. Get them involved in sports or clubs. If doing family activities, rather than going to the movies, consider a hike or spend the day at a museum or zoo. It’s a big world with lots to do beyond our devices, encourage exploration.

    • 6) You are the boss and you set the rules

It’s impossible, and frankly not practical, to watch your child all the time. So all tactics to manage screen time are subject to failure. But you’re the boss and you have tools. If you need to establish more firm controls, the equipment and devices in your home provide some help. In fact, most routers, computers, and TVs come with tools that you can use to block your child from accessing certain content. If the concern are tablets and phones, there are apps you can download to filter what your child sees and what they can access. These apps allow you to block websites, certain web searches, and even keywords.

    • 7) You can always limit screen time

Like the device free zones, you can designate certain times of the day as device-free times. Before bedtime is a good place to start. Note, if you employ this tactic, make the best of it and associate device-free times with a common family activity or just make it family time.

    • 8) Positive reinforcement or reward

Sometimes you get more with a carrot rather than a stick. While controls may be necessary, keeping your child motivated to follow the device rules may be more affective with a reward system. Here are some ideas for a child who is willing to limit screen time:

      • Allowance bonuses (cash is always king!)
      • They choose a meal or dinner out
      • The ability to stay up late
      • No chores for a day or even a week
      • Let them earn something (rewards that promote learning or physical activity is always best)


The goal is not to prevent your child from using devices, or even social media. In fact, what parents need to do is help their children learn health habits, the pros-and-cons of social media and extended screen time, so they can develop positive social skills and esteem. The science behind these devices, media sites, and social media platforms is sophisticated and designed to capture our attention and maximize our screen time. A child is not fully capable of discerning what is manipulation via algorithm and what is organic. That’s our job.  Not easy for sure, but a noble goal for the modern parent.

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