AD | Gifted
When it comes to technology and our kids it can often be something that as parents we struggle with. There is no denying that technology is important when it comes to daily life. They can’t get away with the fact that they need to use technology for homework, research, and even part of their social life through social media, gaming, text messages, and emails. But it doesn’t stop the guilt.
But why, as parents, do we feel so much guilt over screen time? It often comes from comparing our own childhoods to how it is for our own children. We didn’t have the same level of technology and life was different. So we feel guilt because we can often feel like our children rely heavily on the use of their phones, tablets, computers, and gaming consoles.
So what can we do? It is all about balance. There is no hiding from technology right now, and it will only be more enhanced as time moves on. But we can ensure there is a balance between how much time they spend in front of a screen and introducing other options into their lives. Balance is key, but how do you implement that when it comes to headstrong teens and tweens? Here are a couple of ideas to help you out.
Have rules for screen time
This might sound over the top but having some rules in place for screen time can help you to implement balance. This isn’t about being strict but more about having boundaries that can help you and your teen or tween to understand when they can be using technology and when it might be time to do other things. Here are a couple of things to consider:
- Where – Think about where they can use their technology. For example, you might not like the idea of them using it in the car, or in family rooms when other people are there. Think about what would work for you and your family.
- When – When do you think it is appropriate to use technology and when would you prefer your child not to use it? As an example, you might want to avoid technology usage at the dinner table or only enable screen time after jobs have been done or homework completed.
- How – How will they use the technology? There will be times when they need to use technology but you also need to accept that they need it for their own downtime and social aspects as well. You also might want to have rules in place for when certain apps or games are reviewed, such as inappropriate things when younger siblings are around. You may allow them to watch or use those things but only when their younger siblings are not there.
They are not really strict rules, but it gives your child a guide on what is appropriate and enables you to have an understanding with one another.
Avoid long bursts of screen time
It is easy for your teen and tween to mindlessly watch their phones or play games for long periods of time, so finding balance with shorter sessions is key. Encourage regular breaks where they go outside and get some fresh air, come away from a screen and enter another room, get a drink, or have something to eat. Encourage your child to do this and set timers yourself so you can remind them when it is time to put the technology down for a little while. It will seem difficult to encourage this at first, but the benefits are worth the battle.
Provide other options
One of the main reasons that our teens and tweens will turn to technology, outside of needing it for school and homework, is out of boredom and having something to do. They will want to fill the spare time that they have and play games or watch videos, as an example. So a great tip is to provide other options of things for them to do.
Look into extracurricular activities that they can participate in. Maybe they have shown an interest in sport or they like the idea of learning something new. Whatever it is encourage it and find a club or a place they can do it. This will help them to have other options when it comes to their spare time and what they do.
Providing another interest may encourage them to spend other spare time they have differently. For example, if they join a football team they may spend time outside practicing their football skills when they are not attending training or playing matches.
Avoid screen time before bed
We all know that screen time before bed is not good for us. The blue light that it gives off can stimulate our minds making us struggle to get into a restful night’s sleep. Try and encourage a cut-off point for when all the screens are turned off in your home. This will also benefit you as well. Instead, they could read a book or enjoy some quiet time before falling into a peaceful sleep. Teens and tweens need more sleep and will thrive on getting a decent eight to ten hours. So this is a great way to help them increase their energy levels throughout the day.
Encourage socialisation physically
A lot of socialising happens online these days thanks to social media and phones keeping us in constant contact. But it often means that the art of socialising face to face and having conversations is kept to a minimum. So encourage it back into your child’s life. Allow them to invite friends round, head off to clubs, or meet up locally, within reason. The more you encourage physical socialisation the more you are helping them to develop those skills that will be essential when they begin adult life and have to have a job and communicate differently.
Finding a balance is tricky when it comes to screen time, and enforcing strict rules may not go down so well. But keeping in mind these suggestions will help you take a gentle approach to find a balance for your teen and tween.
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