With the advancements in tech needs the use of digital screens everywhere and it’s now involved in every field. Adults have a need of using these screens for one purpose or another.
When adults at home are using screens, children are also attracted and interested and want to use this technology. Now completely cutting down the use is a little impossible so there is a need to control the usage.
With efficient parenting control and strategies, children can be saved from the negative effects of these screens.
Strategies to reduce the screen time
There are still many parents in today’s time who don’t feel like limiting screen times for kids. And many parents set a little limit for screen time and provide kids with their gadgets like cell phones or tablets.
But setting rules for the usage of electronic devices is of utmost importance otherwise children’s mental and physical health will get badly affected.
Set a limit
Now the best point to start with is that parents should set a limit per day or week. For the kids below 2 years, there should be absolutely no screen time. But for the above 2 years, one hour per day is ok and kids above 6 to 7 years of age can only have one and a half or two hours max.
Parents need to be consistent with this rule so that children know that there is no exception for any day. And consistency will also let them adjust to this rule smoothly.
Socialize with the parents having the same rule
If kids at home are stopped from screens they need to be directed for some other activities. The most ideal is physical playtime outside the house.
Find some parents in the community who have implemented the same rule of limited screen time so that kids can have nice play dates. Sometimes when kids are playing with other children who use gadgets even during playtime, they are attracted and can demand gadgets.
So being friends with families who are also strict about the “no gadgets for kids” rule, will let kids not feel aliens among other kids. They will stay away from gadgets and will have fun and engaging playtime.
Use timers or clocks
Give children a little control with timers and clocks so that they know the time limit of their screen usage and automatically get busy with other things after the screen time finishes. This will take away some burden from parents as well and will keep a peaceful environment at home.
Use TV instead of gadgets
Another good strategy is to implement screen time with the TV placed in only one room. When kids have their own gadgets it’s a little difficult for them to fight the temptation.
But when they have only one common screen they will not be very much bothered when the screen time finishes for a day. Will easily move on to some other activity.
No screen time on school days
Many parents have taken this bold and great step to completely remove the screen time during the school week. So children only get time on weekends at certain times to watch safe and good content.
Discuss and explain the harm
If kids are old enough to understand the harms that increased screen time can cause to their brains and body, it is good to discuss with them. Provide them the right information and have a nice discussion, where parents and children share their thoughts.
Explaining and telling children the right reasons for any limitation always work. As children respond more positively to the real facts behind a penalty or rules.
Screen time as a reward
For setting limits to screen time there is a good way of providing kids chances to earn the electronic device time. So tell them the priority tasks that need to be finished, say homework or taking a shower, then they can get the screen time for age appropriate time limit.
Maybe offer them something that they can cash in when they watch screens so they are aware of the screen time they get.
Set an example by action
If you turn on the television for news, any time without any schedule or limitation, or use mobile phones most of the time, then it’s going to be difficult to make children follow the limited screen time rule.
Before expecting children to have a scheduled and limited electronic device time, set a good example by acting upon it yourself. Children are more interested in following what you do as parents than what you say.
Other alternatives to screen time
To avoid too much usage of electronic devices you can provide many other activities ideas that keep them physically active and end the desire for screen time.
These activities are even best for indoors.
1. Treasure hunt game
This game is the kids’ favorite games of all time. You need to be involved for a little preparation and then let kids have a fun-filled adventure.
Hide the clues around the house so that children follow them to find the hidden treasure. The clues can be easily created based on the age of the child.
2. Bring inside some outside games
On rainy days kids don’t need to be stopped from having fun. You can bring inside the house some outdoor games with safe and restricted space.
For example, with some available objects inside the house, you can play hockey, or football with DIY nets, or badminton.
3. Pretend-play or show time
Give children a situation to help them have an interesting pretend play with some DIY costumes and props. Or with a little starting clue ask children to put on some show time with their talent.
Let them get lost in an imaginary world and become interesting characters to express their emotions and convey their thoughts and ideas.
4. Exercise routine
Incorporating a healthy exercise routine is a win-win situation for both parents and kids. You can have that time of the day and can involve kids to encourage a healthy lifestyle as well.
This is a great motivation and doing it as a family activity will help leave positive effects on physical and mental health. You can pass on a good habit to your children for a great life ahead.
5. Small day adventures
You can take children for a few hours a day camping to a nearby beach or a park. You can go to a swimming pool as children love to have fun in the water.
Other outdoor adventures like hiking for an hour, or a play gym for fun, or an inflatable play area to have good use of energy and have a blast.
6. Sensory station in the backyard
If you have a backyard this could be an ideal activity as kids love to be involved in some kind of sensory task. Make a nice sandpit at home so that children can play with their beach toys in there.
7. A favorite pet
Some humans love pets and it helps kids develop love, care, and feel responsible. Some parents have trained pets before they have children so it’s easy and fun to play around with those pets.
But sometimes you can have pets when children are able to take care of them and help you with the training. They will have someone to follow their directions around the house. And will get good company if they have no siblings.
8. Take a walk to explore the nature
Getting nice fresh air keeps germs away and relaxes the mind to elevate the mood. Children, by nature, are explorers so if you have a nice neighborhood that has forest or little mountains, take a good walk and let children explore the beauty of nature.
This will help initiate educational discussions which will provide children with good information about many things.
9. Crafty ideas for creative minds
This is an amazing and creative way to engage kids and also involves sensory play as well. Provide children different textures and art supplies to make an artifact with those objects or reusable items at home.
They can simply use colors to make a drawing of how they see things or what they think something looks like. Arts and crafts activities stimulate the brain and allow children to imagine beyond what is visible.
10. Gardening a great hobby
Now, this is how you involve kids in something you also love. Children love to enjoy activities with parents and this way parents can also get fresh with what they want to do.
Gardening is a great hobby as you can have some vegetables in your own garden or a small backyard. This will help kids as well to understand many science concepts.
Some tech tools that can help to limit the use of electronic devices
With the increasing worry of parents about kids getting addicted to electronic devices technology has come up with many solutions. Now you can find some tech tools easily to cope with this worry.
You can easily implement some restrictions through these tech tools to make your job easier.
iOS 12 brings the feature “Screen Time”
If you have apple devices at home then this feature is going to help you with the control over screen time easily. This feature can be used on iPhones, iPads, iPods.
This feature provides all information about how much time kids are using and on what apps and websites. You can control the time for a certain app or multiple apps, so after the time limit finishes the app will automatically stop working.
You can also preselect some apps that your kids can use at a specific time and this can be achieved with the Downtime feature. So you can give access to different apps at different times, to children.
You can also completely block any websites or set privacy rules one time and they will work for every time usage.
Circle Home Plus
This is basically a small device that gets connected with the home wifi. It comes with an app that can be installed on parents’ mobiles or any device.
From this device, parents can control all the electronic gadgets that their children have. It provides the ability to monitor and track the user on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, it also helps to block inappropriate content.
The major feature of this device is to halt any child gadget from using the wifi connection after the time limit finishes and you get a notification. It has a special bedtime mode that can be set for any time of the day to stop the usage of the internet.
Ignite Wifi Hub by Rogers
This one also has an app to operate with and efficiently gives control to parents of limiting the screen time for children. You can give limited content access to children at a specific time and set the time limits for a day.
After a certain time, it also ceases the device from accessing the internet connection. Also, the device goes to sleep mode completely with some pre-settings.
Linksys Velop Mesh Wifi System
Linksys Velop Mesh is a whole Wifi System, so it can be a good upgrade to a wifi connection in the house. With this bonus, you get all the parental controls over the usage time, content access, and internet access to the devices.
Some amazing apps for parental control
There are even some apps that can be instantly installed to have good control over electronic devices, rather than having separate devices.
Some of the great apps with great features are as follows:
- Basically for college or university students
- They get points when their devices are locked
- They can use the gained points for discounts and coupons for restaurants, shopping places, etc
- It basically helps parent monitor each and every move of kids on electronic devices
- Tracking social media activities
- Keep an eye on texting
- Monitoring of emails exchange
- Parents can set and get different alerts
- Can be connected with schools as well
- Screen time limit settings
- Reports generation of usage time
- Turn off the internet connection on one or multiple devices
- Adult content can be blocked
Protect Your Kid
- With this app you get all the parental controls of limiting the usage time, blocking certain content, and controlling the wifi connection with time limits.
- A nice feature is that of organizing apps into groups so that restrictions can be applied collectively to each group.
- This app can be used on apple and android devices both
- It provides location tracking
- Provides usage time reports
- Block inappropriate content
- Set recursive schedule
Apple Screen Time Flaws
Over the period of time, some smart and tech lover teenagers found solutions to break the parental controls. But then some tricks have been found to help parents with taking the control back for children’s electronic devices usage.
1. Be cautious
The best tip to start with is that parents should always keep their passwords secret. They should not share any information about their passwords with the kids.
Not only this, never use easy combinations for passwords like birthdates, age, children’s names, etc. Along with this block the App Store as well for any kind of purchase without asking for your permission.
2. Resetting Time Limits
Kids have also found a turn around when their time limit ends up. They delete the app and reinstall it through the Family Share feature that resets the time limit and they can use their personal gadgets as much as they want without their parents knowing.
The solution to this is also disabling the App Store completely so that kids can’t use Family Share to reinstall the app. Set proper settings for deleting and installing any kind of apps.
3. Reset the YouTube restrictions
This one is really scary as children found a way to send themselves any kind of videos from YouTube and view them through the YouTube iMessage application. The iMessage app doesn’t follow the screen time limitation rules as the Screen Time feature has.
To avoid this remove the YouTube app from the device and then block it through restriction settings on its installation and block the YouTube website on the system level.
4. Screen recording for passwords
Children have used a trick to get the parental control passcodes. They turn on the screen recording when they hand over the device to parents after their screen time is finished.
Parents sometimes could not figure this out and the children use these passwords later to bypass the time limits or disable or change them.
You can find if the screen recording is on by checking for the red flashing light on the top left corner of the device. The screen recording feature can be disabled as well.
5. Setting the device as new
With the factory reset the device can be set up as new with the resetting of Screen Time settings which will remove all the restrictions.
The best way is not to provide a child with his/her own Apple id with which this can be done. Don’t forget to check the usage reports regularly if time limits have been changed, it is clearly visible in the reposts.
6. Time and zone changes
With the time and zone changes, the device can be easily set to already passed time and date to use more screen without any clear clues.
Parents can set the date and time on automatic update settings and block changes of date and time at the system level.
7. Text Messages through Siri
Children can still do texting, even after they have reached the set time limit, by using Siri on the device. Parents can stop this by removing or disabling the Siri app.
Take away message
In my opinion providing kids with personal gadgets before the age of 14 is absolutely a wrong decision. They should only have a shared device that parents can completely control with all the necessary restrictions.
Provide many alternate opportunities to kids so that they can have a good use of their energy and abilities. Though parents also have busy schedules but get involved with them at some time to create a strong bond so that children listen to you carefully and obey you.
 Tamana, Sukhpreet K., et al. “Screen-time is associated with inattention problems in preschoolers: Results from the CHILD birth cohort study.” PloS one 14.4 (2019): e0213995.
 Raglin, John S. “Exercise and mental health.” Sports Medicine 9.6 (1990): 323-329.
 Poresky, Robert H., and Charles Hendrix. “Differential effects of pet presence and pet-bonding on young children.” Psychological Reports 67.1 (1990): 51-54.
 Kellert, Stephen R. “Experiencing nature: Affective, cognitive, and evaluative development in children.” Children and nature: Psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations 117151 (2002).