Wouldn’t it be nice to see kids being kids again and minimize the screentime?
Really! How often are they face down in their phone or tablet? We can get a little deeper and ask, how often are we face down in our phones or tablets?
This summer in Palo Alto, California, a 17-year old was arrested for burglary for breaking into a house and waking up the 60-year-old residents to ask for their Wi-Fi password. The kid was lurking around the house, and others during the day.
How crazy is it to read this? In a time where certain people can knock on the door and get shot at, this kid breaks in for the Wi-Fi password. Now, I know we can read that and say I’m not that bad, of course. But how bad is it?
While it gets harder as time goes on to separate extended amounts of screentime being the norm, and it being too much, we can still aim to have a healthy screen relationship!
4 Ways to Manage Kids’ Screentime
1. Wait on Phones and Tablets
The average child gets their phone at ten years old. When I was 10, I was riding bikes outside with my friends or playing with action figures inside. Of course, it’s a different time now, where our kids don’t know a world without screens dominating their lives. My oldest (12) starting asking for a phone around 10. “Everyone has one” he would tell me. I held out until he was 11 – the start of 6th grade and middle school. There was no avoiding it, as different school ending times meant he needed a way to get in touch with me for an emergency.
Now, half-way through 5th grade, my 10-year-old is expecting.
2. Delay Social Media
If you can, delay social media. No, there shouldn’t be an if; we’re the parents. Delay social media. Most social media sites don’t allow tweens to sign up until they are 13 in the first place. If they manage to go around it, the world of social media for a pre-teen, or even teen, is not a happy one. Middle school introduces new words, slang, definitions, etc. Social media will expand on that in a way you cannot control. Hidden behind a screen, anyone can say anything they want. We see adults do it all the time, and these are people more responsible than a child. Well, most.
My 12yo has Snapchat, and I am quickly learning that it won’t work that way for my other kids as they get their devices, and my 12-year-old won’t be pleased to lose it, but it’s coming.
3. Set Expectations
Our kids don’t have the mental capacity to set expectations on something like having their device. That’s like me telling my 10-year-old on a Friday night that he can stay up late playing Fortnight but needs to go to bed when he’s tired. He’ll still be gaming when I get up in the morning. That’s what we are for. We have to set proper expectations, on what we expect, and rules for usage. In our house, for example, I am allowed to take my son’s phone at any time, without notice, and review anything I want. He has that expectation. I don’t let screen time on Sunday mornings before church also.
If you’re going to allow a phone or tablet, set expectations, and rules up front.
4. Actively Monitor Screentime
Here’s the hard part. Regardless of what else goes on. If you fail to wait as long as you want. You fail to keep your kid off Snapchat. Being active in their usage activity is critical. There is just no other way to keep a kid safe these days if we aren’t monitoring things. If we aren’t being active and engaging in discussions with them. If we don’t show our kids that they have a worry-free, open line of communication with us, then they won’t open up. They’ll be less willing, to be honest.
If you want some help, they have apps! I am a fan of Bark (this is a referral link, and I get a credit if you sign up and keep the service beyond seven days), which works on Apple and Android. Check it out and let me know what you think – they offer a 7-day free trial.
What do you do in your home to help manage screentime