Parenting

How to Limit Children’s Mobile Time After School

The evolution of technology is always a good thing. However, with the prevalence of mobile technology and the ease of children getting smartphones these days, we’re starting to notice alarming trends. According to a study conducted in the US, up to 10 in every 20 children have a smartphone usage problem, with several research patterns linking phone addiction among children to depression, anxiety, and obesity, among several other problems. If your child is spending a little too much time with their gadgets and you’d like to help wean them off this pattern has put together these internet usage guidelines and tips that are sure to help you out.

1. Lay down rules before each session

Children today often dash for their phones right after getting home from school. And much of the problem parents find themselves in today has to do with lax rules that don’t really guide screen time for your little one.

So how do I teach my child to limit the screen time? We have plenty of answers to share with you today, revolving around screen time management, in particular.  Here are our suggestions:

  • Lay out the duration of the session beforehand. Tell your child the maximum amount of time they can use a device e.g. 30 minutes or 1 hour and set reminders to implement this
  • Outlining times when devices are off-limits. For example, during dinner or an hour leading up to bedtime, it’s helpful to set rules to forbid device usage in your home
  • Also, you want to build healthy internet habits by teaching them how to stay safe online

If you’re always fighting with your child about getting off their phones, creating a clear routine may be beneficial for your family.

2. Help your child understand the downsides

Too much usage of mobile devices has detrimental consequences. For one, your child’s social skills can decline, hindering their ability to connect and relate to their peers, and leading to isolation and loneliness in the real world.

Children are often oblivious to the far-reaching consequences of their actions. As simple an act as sitting down with your kid to discuss the repercussions of too much screen time can have on their health, can help them understand better why they need to cut down on screen time, which is the first step in the right direction.

Some of the downsides you can go over with your child includes the effect of over-usage on eyesight, friendship, and even how it affects the rest of the family.

3. Explore alternative interests in real life

Your child most certainly has his or her passions and interests outside of digital devices. If you’re keen to crack how to limit children’s screen time, we recommend you help them explore Extracurricular activities in school for understanding the real-world passions, which may include hobbies such as: 

  • Painting
  • Board games
  • Sports such as football, cricket, etc.

You know your child best in terms of the physical activities she enjoys doing. Taking a keener interest in these hobbies will divert attention away from smartphones, more so if you take an active role in the process. If a busy schedule prevents you from participating in these hobbies, registering your little one in sports clubs is a great idea.

Related reading: Create Screen-Free Zones to Help Your Kids Unplug

4. Regulate screen time with parental controls

Fortunately, you can also use third-party apps or tweak settings on the device for screen time management. Some phones offer a digital well-being option that allows you to do a ton of useful things including:

  • Tracking how much time your child spends across various apps
  • Configure app timers that allow your kid to use certain apps for a limited time
  • Setting bedtime modes that turn off notifications during bedtime, among others

Depending on the device type and operating system, you may need to configure these parental controls daily as they typically reset at midnight.

These settings become especially useful if you’d like to restrict the duration spent on a particular app that your child is fond of, such as a video game.

You can also use apps to encourage skill-building and play simultaneously. At Carrots&Cake, you’ll find a science-based app that prioritizes learning and screen time in the best possible way. Children will start their session by only having access to educational apps. Once their tasks are complete, they unlock the ability to play, which is a nice little reward after all that work!

5. Lead by example

Have you ever tried to warn your child off a certain habit, and they ask why they can’t do yet you or someone in your family does it? It’s difficult to help your child beat a smartphone addiction if, right after you warm them against it, you proceed to spend countless minutes scrolling through your device.

Remember, children learn most of their skills and habits from us. Parents are typically the first line of information and reference for children who look up to us. It’s therefore important that we do not preach water and drink wine. So lead by example, cut down on your own screen time and your child is sure to follow in your footsteps. It’ll be much easier for them to comply if they see you doing it. In place of mobile phone usage, try to find common ground through hobbies you both enjoy.

6. Reduce the temptation

Kids today own a plethora of screens, right from portable gaming consoles to iPad, phones, laptops, and the likes. It’s not uncommon for children to own multiple devices, which just equates to more temptations as they keep hopping from one device to the other once the batter has run out for one.

We, consequently, advise you to limit the number of devices your children has access to. Advisably, consider getting them a phone with limited internet capabilities more so if the phone serves just communication purposes. Otherwise, you also want to take charge of storing your child’s smartphone (don’t let them keep their phones in their rooms).

Smartphones can be helpful in moderation

Smartphones aren’t inherently evil. These little tools have become an important pillar of modern learning and particularly helped to keep our children safe during the height of the pandemic in India. They keep families closer together and have been an invaluable asset in various facets of everyday life, provided we are keen on ensuring online safety for children. However, too much of one thing is always harmful, and that’s the case with digital technologies such as smartphones. Research recommends that, excluding screen time spent on homework, children between 5 to 17 years should spend at most 120 minutes daily on their phones. Try to attain the same goal for your child.

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