Our phones and tablets play an important role in our lives. They help keep us on task, connect us with others, and give us a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. However, as electronic devices continue to become a bigger and bigger part of our daily lives, it can be a real struggle to limit the time we all spend on them. This is especially true in children, who can become cranky, impatient, and even aggressive after spending too much time glued to them. Here are some easy tips to limit screen time.
CLEAN UP APPS
Take some time to go through all of the apps you have downloaded on your devices. Delete the ones are no longer, or rarely used. You can even go a step further and delete those games that steal your children’s time the most and keep them glued to the screen. The less choices they have available, the less temptation there is to click on each app.
Now that your apps are all cleaned up, organize them into groups. Group all of the games together, calendars together, social media apps together, etc. This will be very helpful for your children to use going forward. You can organize the apps on their iPods or iPads by “brain” games and “fun” games or something similar. If they want to play a “fun” game, have them play 2 “brain” games first. It’s kind of like dessert after eating all of your vegetables. You have to feed your brain the healthy stuff first, and then the junk.
Use a timer to limit the time spent on a device. You can use a traditional timer or stopwatch, or you can achieve it with the Clock app on an iDevice using these instructions:
1. Launch the Clock app and select Timer.
2. Set the timer to your chosen amount of time you would like your child (or self) to use the device. Be sure that Stop Playing is also selected (Sounds in iPad, When Timer Ends in iPhone and iPod).
3. Press start and hand the device to your child.
When the timer runs out, the lock screen will appear. If you have a Passcode Lock set, your child cannot enter unless they know the passcode. You can also incorporate some fun rules when your child wants screen time. For example, 10 minutes of iPad use can happen only after an hour of independent play. This way they have the opportunity to use their imagination and get exercise, along with having time to play on their devices too.
SET AN EXAMPLE
We can all be guilty of letting electronics rob us of our time. How many times have we sat down to use a device for a few minutes, to look up and see hours have actually passed by? Be sure to get your work done first yourself before logging into your iPhone. Set limits for yourself so children can imitate your healthy choices.
PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS
Dust off the board games, take a walk, and just spend quality time with your children. While they all love playing games electronically, they love the time spent with you even more. Show them that they are the most important thing in your life and will always come before any type of device. You may be surprised how good you actually feel after spending an hour running around with your kids rather than checking your social media page.
Be mindful of your child’s behavior. If they are cranky or become aggressive it might be because of too much time spent on devices. Try having them step back from them for a while to see if it has an impact. If they are having problems falling or staying asleep try, try ending any screen time a little earlier to see if that is the issue. Encourage other activities such as reading a book instead.
Designate places your child can or cannot use their iPads. You can make a rule of no electronics in the dining room, or in the car. By knowing where your child is using them, you can keep a close eye to what they are doing on them. It also makes you more aware of the time they are spending on them if they are only allowed certain places to use them.
DON’T KEEP UP WITH THE JONESES
There is no need to own every device out there. The more you have, the more time you spend on them. Every child is going to want the latest and greatest phone available. Or they are going to ask for the gaming system their best friend has. However if they have access to everything, they will most likely be spending time on all of them, increasing the amount of screen time they have. Sometimes we just have to remain strong and be happy with what we currently have.