1. Lead by example
Parents need to remember that they are the most important role models of appropriate behaviour in a child’s life. If you have unhealthy screen habits, your children may adopt them as well.
2. Establish ground rules
When it comes to managing technology use, it’s best to establish concrete rules rather than enacting arbitrary ones. These rules will vary from household to household, but a good start is to create a family media plan. Develop guidelines that reflect the family’s values with everyone involved. Device-free dinners are also a great idea for the whole family. Why not make a game of it. Some examples we have found are whoever checks their phone first has to buy everybody ice-cream or wear a silly hat for the rest of the dinner.
3. Communicate those ground rules to other caregivers
Nothing can undermine your authority quicker than having someone else bend your rules. If you have specific screen restrictions for your child, be sure to communicate them to other caregivers, such as grandparents or friends’ parents.
4. Think of fun activities for your kids
Although it can be great to leave children with nothing but the contents of their imagination, you don’t want your children to feel too short-changed by having to surrender their devices. Be sure to set aside some fun, screen-free family time during the weekend.
5. Create an incentive for recreational screen time
Given the integral role that technology plays in all of our lives, children have a tendency to view screen time as their right, rather than a privilege. While homework and learning shouldn’t count as a reward, you may want to incentivise recreational screen time (for example: completing your chores earns you an hour of online gaming or social media).
6. Use parental controls
While we generally advocate an ‘educate and empower’ approach to online safety, many fun Internet and screen activities are truly addictive, and it can be necessary for parents to utilise parental controls in order to prevent sleep deprivation and health problems in children. Software that monitors device usage or prohibits access to the Internet after a preset time can be beneficial in managing screen time.
A podcast, The Art of Screen Time With Author Anya Kamenetz [44 min. The interview begins at 3.33min] focuses on how families can balance digital media and real life.