How to Manage Kids' Screen Time
There are few topics more contentious for parents these days than how to manage kids screen time. Just the mention of screen time and people get their hackles up. Is it something we have to feel guilty or defensive about? Absolutely not! By consciously working to manage kids screen time in our routine, we can feel good about it.
For us, my partner and I sat down and discussed how we felt screen time would work best for our family. We got on the same page and continue to bring it up as our kids get older and their needs change. Here are a few tips that have helped our family manage screen time:
1. Use screens at the same time every day
There is nothing more annoying to me than my kids asking to watch something all day long. To quell this, we mostly use screens at the same time every day. At one point in our lives, that was first thing in the morning. These days, it’s in the evening while I’m making dinner.
2. Pick content ahead of time they’re allowed to watch
One day when everyone was in a good mood, we sat down with the kids and took out a pen and paper. We made a list of all the shows and movies the kids can watch. They get to choose from the list.
3. Set out a schedule of who picks what to watch
Since we have three kids, this is a necessity. From our list of shows and movies, the kids alternate days with who gets to pick. If one child is disappointed, they know they get to pick one of the following days, so they aren’t too upset.
4. The type of screen matters
We use tablets on road trips, etc. but at home, the tv works best for us. I found a DRAMATIC difference in behaviour with the kids watching on tablets versus the tv. This might not be the case for every child but in our family, it’s made a huge difference.
5. Model, model, model
Most importantly, we’ve found the adults need to model what we want to see in our kids. I have tried hard to stop aimlessly scrolling when my kids are around. I save that for early morning or after bedtime. I do use my phone around the kids for work or communicating with friends (which I try keeping to a minimum when they’re around). Sometimes I’ll even say out loud, “oops, I lost track of time. I’m going to put my phone in the other room and take a break from it.” There’s no point in hiding how addictive screens can be, so I model ways I cope with it.
Being conscious in how we manage kids screen time in our routine has been a game changer. But along with that, I’ve learned to offer myself grace when days don’t go as planned. Sometimes it’s a three-movie kind of day… and that’s okay 😉
Alex Turner is a journalist turned stay-at-home mom. Read more about her adventures on her blog!