Try as you might, it's nearly impossible to keep kids away from screens these days. Between the TV, tablet, and phone, they're everywhere! But just how do you set guidelines — and enforce them — for kids' time in front of the screen?
“My 14-year-old son and sometimes my 11-year-old daughter are convinced that we are unreasonable when it comes to the amount of time we allow him to spend watching television, playing on the computer, or playing video games,” says Shannon S. “I am trying to get [them] to see that we are normal as far as parents are concerned and that we are simply trying to protect [them] from [their] own destructive behavior. When he plays games too long, he gets moody, manic, irrational, and agitated.”
Here, our community shares tips on setting ground rules when it comes to computers, smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets with screens.
1. Minor — Not Major — Distractions Are OK
Many parents believe letting your child watch television, or play on a learning pad, is perfectly OK if it’s one of your child's many activities. After all, even adults watch a little TV to learn new information or for pure entertainment. Meagan S., for example, says it’s OK for her child to play video games in moderation. “We live in a world with technology, so there is nothing wrong with teaching a child to use said technology at a young age,” she says. “Limitations and moderation need to be set up, like not allowing them to zone in on it for hours and hours in a day, but otherwise, it's no big deal.”
Pauline calls herself a high-tech career mommy and agrees with the notion that “anything, if used in moderation, is not harmful.”
2. Make It Educational
As long as a little screen time isn't taking away from your time with your child, it can be educational, so it shouldn’t be banned entirely, some moms say. “If you are engaged with [your child] in this experience, and it isn't taking up most of the day, it is a good tool for learning,” Jody notes.
Sandy J. believes a little screen time “is fine if you're with [your child] watching what she does, and she isn't on it all day. In fact, spending time on the computer helped her daughter learn letters and numbers, when she was reluctant to sit still and learn the information any other way.