Summer! The perfect time to sow healthy screentime habits for your kids. Yes, it sounds like hard work, but when I heard habits kids learn before they are 10 are likely to stick with them for life, it was just the motivation I needed. This was reinforced by a friend whose long lost the battle of control over her teenagers screentime. She was told by her Doctor “You no longer have the greatest influence over your teenagers. In fact, you come in fourth behind friends, teachers, and me.” Being a parent is the gift that just keeps on giving.
To make sowing these habits as pain free as possible, we’ve put together our Top 5 tips for healthy screentime habits.
Agree a Limit
Work out what you feel is a sensible amount of recreational screentime for your child to enjoy each week. Discuss this with them, explain why you are setting a limit and how they will benefit from sticking to it. If you are unsure what limits you should set, you might find our blog “Healthy screentime for kids – what is the right amount? “ helpful.
Layout the Rules
Once you’ve established & agreed with your child how much screentime they are allowed, try and stick to it. Children are creatures of habit and love a routine, if they know what the guidelines are there is less wriggle room for argument. Parents & children love our Promise Contract for that very reason.
Keep a Track
There is no natural stopping device for children today. We used to have the news or football results. Today, children can watch 24 hours of non-stop entertainment. Try to create your own stopping device – your child will love it and it will make your life so much easier. We designed TimeTokens and the timer system specifically for this purpose – and it really works.
Reward Good Behaviour
If your child keeps to the rules, reward them. No arguments, no complaining deserves a treat, right? We use a Golden Ticket which works really well as a carrot to keep them on track. If they stick to the Promise Contract they get to trade in the Golden Ticket at the weekend for a well-earned treat.
Stick with it!
Once you’ve mastered the framework – stick to it. I’ve been using TimeTokens with Harry (now 9) for 2.5 years – it’s just part of our routine and so simple we don’t even think about it. But like any system, you have to stick to it – short term pain for long gain. Think how happy you’ll be when you reap the rewards of having a digitally resilient teenager.
Finally, remember it’s good for children to be bored. They are completely over-scheduled and need time every day to relax and chill out. Don’t always feel you have to entertain them – were you when you were young?