What To Do When Your Children Spend Too Much Time Online

July 4, 2021

Smartphones are very addictive, not just for children, but even adults have a hard time keeping them away or creating a healthy balance. A research carried out in 2019 by SellCell discovered that 35.6% of kids in the USA spend around one to two hours on their cell phones every day, while 15.1% spend more than 4 hours. 

Cheerful multiracial female friends resting on sofa and floor while watching funny video on smartphone

Although cell phones and other digital devices are necessary must-haves in today’s world, it is essential to control their usage, ensuring that children have a healthy life. How do you limit screen time?

Monitor Children’s Activities

Video games and chatting with friends are some of the things that keep children glued to digital devices, and to avoid this, monitor the usage. Know who they talk to, and track their activities when away from the house. For instance, technology has enabled parents to know who calls their children and their location.

You will just type phone number on a tracking app and get to know the name and location of the caller. Because children can easily be exposed to predators and cyberbullies, tracking who they talk to keeps them safe. You will get to know who your child spends time with when away from home and the details of those who call them, including their social media profiles.

Sensitize Them On The Dangers Of Uncontrolled Screen Time

When you talk to your kids about regulating screen time, do not just leave it as a rule but let them understand why you need to monitor their activities and limit the screen time. Talk about the dangers of screen-time, such as not getting time to attend to necessary tasks such as homework, physical activity, eating healthily, reading, and extra-curricular activities.

Let them understand that a lot of time on their devices can make them obese and make it harder to fall asleep at night. It might even increase the chances of anxiety, depression, and ADD. 

Set The Rules

Letting the kids know when they can or cannot use their devices keeps them on track because they know what is expected of them. It can include rules like no devices or screen time during dinner time, homework, or bedtime.

Sometimes you can even have restrictions such as no use of gadgets during school days enabling children to concentrate on school activities and other responsibilities.

If they break the rules, keep the devices away for some time until they learn to respect the set rules. Do not negotiate with the kids when it comes to rules and expectations, making it clear that they have to follow guidelines with no exceptions. Also, lead by example by not using your devices at dinner time or when going to bed.

Give Them Responsibilities

Lack of enough activity makes children get bored quickly, and to avoid this, give them age-appropriate responsibilities they handle every day. For instance, they can make their beds, dust the house, cook or clean the utensils and take care of other responsibilities when at home. 

Giving children chores teaches them a lot about responsibility and molds them into more independent adults. Make it clear that they shouldn’t have their gadgets when doing the chores. 

To make this more effective, have set times when you all attend to duties. For instance, right after breakfast is an excellent time because kids are energetic and have fewer distractions.

Encourage Outdoor Time

Children who spend a lot of time on their devices have little time to explore the beauty of outdoor life. To avoid this:

  • Encourage them to spend more time outdoors playing or just exploring.
  • Invest in outdoor games that involve all family members making it fun and a good distraction from devices.
  • Take time to go for an adventure, fishing, trekking, or visiting friends.
  • Encourage your children to socialize, and by so doing, they will be spending less time on their devices.

Set Parental Controls On The Devices

It is not enough to limit screen or digital devices usage but control what children can do on the devices. Parental controls enable you to restrict use or access to age-inappropriate content through content filters. 

You can put parental controls in computer and video games, digital television services, and mobile phones.

It is also important to lead by example because children learn more from what you do than say. If you are always on your phone and pay less attention to the children, they’ll also be inclined to use their devices more and might even question your behavior

Make sure you also uphold the rules making it easier to reprimand children when they break them.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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