Does your child play a game on the phone, iPad or computer every day? And does your child also regularly watch television? The dilemma of our modern times is screen time! Almost from baby age, many children come into contact with screens of, for example, a telephone or tablet. As they get older, that screen time can get pretty out of hand. How do you make sure you don't argue about it all the time? Here are 7 golden rules for limited screen time without discussion.
It starts innocently enough, turning on a movie while you're cooking, or answering an important email or phone call. This option is nice and handy for us and the child and suddenly they get used to those screens. And the older they get, the more tempting the screen is for them. But where is the screen time limit and how do we ensure clarity about it?
Many parents therefore wonder how much screen time children should have in a day. Stichtig Mediaeducation has nevertheless tried to draw up a guideline for some guidance. They give the following indication:
2 – 4 years: 5 to 10 minutes at a time, up to a maximum of 30 minutes per day;
4 – 6 years: 10 to 15 minutes at a time, up to a maximum of 1 hour per day;
6 – 8 years: a maximum of 1 hour per day, divided into periods of a maximum of 30 minutes;
8 – 10 years: a maximum of 1 to 1½ hours of screen time per day;
10 – 12 years: a maximum of 2 hours of screen time per day;
12 years and older: a maximum of 3 hours of screen time per day.
Guidance and clear agreements is the advice if you want to comply with the guidelines. It's just not that easy. Especially not with older children who are more self-stading. Clear rules that you discuss in advance go a long way.
Rule 1: Fixed moments
Set a certain time after which your child is only allowed on a screen. For example, five o'clock in the afternoon. Before that, first play outside and/or play with other things. That saves nagging and moreover, your child also learns that it is over at some point.
Rule 2: Important tasks
Make a "to-do list" for school days and days off with your child. Make an appointment when he is allowed on the screen, for example only when your child has completed the to-do list or has already done 3 of the 6 assignments. Think of doing school assignments, tidying up a room, walking the dog, doing something creative, ect.
Rule 3: Consent
Always let a child ask first if he can play games or watch television. This way you keep a grip on the time he spends on this. This is about 10 years old or so.
Rule 4: The timer
Determine how long your child is allowed on a screen at a time, for example half an hour, and set a kitchen timer when your child turns on the screen. Does the alarm go off? Then the screen goes out. No discussion, not even finishing a game/screen.
Rule 5: Divide time
When your child is a little older, you can agree on a certain amount of time that he can spend on a screen per day. For example an hour. To make it clear, you can put balls that each represent a quarter of an hour in a container. When fifteen minutes have passed, take a ball out of it. This way your child knows better how much time he still has. Warn the last minutes to remind him of your appointment.
Rule 6: Turn off yourself
Ensure a gradual transition to the 'real world', without taking the screen off your hands. Say it's time to eat or take a bath. Give your child a minute to let this sink in, and they may turn off the television or put the device away themselves. It MUST be turned off for its part.
Rule 7: The 3 "No"
Not before bed, not in the morning and not in the bedroom
Playing with a tablet or watching TV activates the brain. The light ensures that your child does not become sleepy, but wakes up. Because of this, they will not be able to fall asleep easily afterwards.
The other way around doesn't work either, watching TV in the morning leads to sluggishness and before you know it you have to hurry or you'll be late. Watching in the afternoon is better.
Do not give your child under twelve their own TV in the bedroom. Preferably no computer or other device that can be used for gaming.
Parent, Pay attention!
In addition to the clear rules for our children, we as parents also have to pay attention to a few things so that everything runs smoothly. But what should we do?
Lead by example
As with many other things, "lead by example!". If you look at your phone or behind your laptop all day, it is also more difficult to correct your children. So put your phone aside more often in the presence of your child. That is also much more fun! Rather read a book, get creative or go outside regularly.
It is also important to look into each other's eyes during a conversation and not into a screen. This is how you show "I think you are important". Nothing is more annoying than communicating with someone who stares at a screen instead of looking at you.
Especially if your child is still a bit smaller, it can be practical and fun to play and watch together. This way you know exactly what your child sees and does and you also have some extra quality time together.
Ask questions in the future. “What are you watching” or “who is that?”. Children love to have their parents' attention. Ask what level your son or daughter is in. If they don't answer because they're so absorbed in the screen, don't give up. Sit next to them and ask another question.
Provide offline alternatives
Do offline activities with your kids. Play games on the weekend, go to the woods, take your kids to the library and let them pick and read books.
Don't let screen time become a time to solve boredom. Do you provide children with a mountain of toys, books or craft items? Put a few popular items in a box where they can take their toys when bored. Make sure to refresh it from time to time with other toys.
Being bored is not that bad for you at all, and that is a nice lesson in raising your children. Then the creativity comes right out!