Too Much Screen Time for Kids? 7 Easy Tips to Manage Devices at Home

Children aged 8 to 12 spend, on average, nearly 6 hours per day exposed to media – watching TV, playing video games, online messaging, or listening to music online. The internet can be an enriching and educational resource for kids, but excessive exposure can lead to harmful effects.

What do you do about it? Especially now that the holiday season has passed, and with it have come new presents and gadgets around your home for the kids to play with. Whether you’ve gotten your child a device as a present, or they were gifted one by another loved one, we’ve compiled some tips to make it easier to manage those devices at home right from the get-go and make parenting during the New Year less stressful.

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Tips to manage your child’s devices at home:

1. Set Family Agreements for Internet Use

Each family approaches the internet differently, so it is important to account for your family values and parenting styles. Having your children on board understanding these values can be a great help to navigating internet use at home seamlessly. Agree to rules for internet use together as a family. HealthyChildren.Org provides a useful template to get started with creating your family’s unique media plan.

2. Limit Kids’ Screen Time

Most experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend screen time of no more than 1-2 hours per day. Setting consistent screen time limits for kids everyday and encouraging a variety of other screen-free or outside play activities will help your child’s development in other areas.

3. Establish Tech-Free Zones at Home

Enforce unplugged family time throughout the day, including a device free dinner or bedtime. Unhealthy eating habits are one of the ways that excessive screen time can negatively affect us. In addition to addressing negative side effects, a media-free mealtime provides your family an opportunity to bond and connect with each other with no distractions.

4. Occupy Their Attention with Screen-Free Activities

Handing a child a device to occupy their time while you get a much-needed break is an instant fix, but it may not be an effective long-term solution. Looking for easy screen-free alternatives to occupy their time instead? Check out our blog for ideas on screen-free activities with kids that excite and engage their imagination and attention, and give you a break in between.

5. Encourage Offline and Outside Playtime

Face-to-face social interaction and outside play have a multitude of benefits to a child’s development. Encourage your kids to explore offline activities, or play outside if the weather is cooperating. Check out these indoor and outdoor activities for kids from Cool Mom Picks for great offline playtime ideas.

6. Stay in the Know with Their Online Activity

Know what websites your child is on, and the channels that they have access to. Hub by Securly gives you an easy way to have insight into your child’s online activity so you can stay in the loop with minimal effort. Visit www.plugnplayhub.com to learn more about the Hub’s activity feed, as well as other features to manage your child’s devices at home.

7. Monitor for Age-Appropriate Content

The internet has many resources available online that help children discover new ideas, learn new skills, and grow. But what is helpful and educational for a 13-year-old may not be appropriate for an 8 year-old. Utilizing Common Sense Media is a great way to ensure that the websites they are visiting are right for them. Read reviews for apps, websites, and other media on the internet, so you can feel at ease knowing your child is consuming appropriate content.

Sources: HealthyChildren.Org, GreatSchools

How does your family navigate media and devices at home? Tell us in the comments!

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