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I get this question all the time from my parents. As a teacher, educator, and a mother of two Millenials and one Gen Z, of course, I have a strong opinion about this and did a bunch of research on this subject.  

Screen time is a hot debate between parents today. Too much screen time can have negative effects on your kids. It promotes a sedentary lifestyle and kids are physically inactive for long periods of time. However, how can I not give an iPad or a PS4 to my child? All of his friends have one and they will feel out of place.

Whether kids spend too much time in front of a television screen, computer screen, iPad or phone screen, the effects are the same. Kids are choosing screen time over a good night’s sleep. The average screen time is skyrocketing at a speedy rate. I read the other day that mobile screen time went up to 48 minutes a day. Take note that these numbers are for kids 0 – 8 years old.

Tweens reported around 4 hours of screen time, while teens waste 6 hours and 40 minutes in front of their mobile devices. Professor David L. Hill, MD, FAAP warned that spending too much screen time can be dangerous for kids. He said that excessive time on screen heightens the risk of obesity, and kids will have difficulty sleeping at night.

So, as parents, what can you do to lessen your kid’s screen time? Below, I have listed 4 useful tips that can help you out.

1. Behave as you would want your kids to behave

Follow your own advice! You keep telling your kids to put down their phones, but you aren’t doing the same thing. Make sure your kids are busy doing other activities while you work on your computer or mobile phone. If everyone is free, plan group activities and leave your phone in another room. Encourage kids to do physical activities, and play with them as often as you can.

It’s hard to tell a teenager to enjoy the great outdoors when you didn’t train them to do so.  Your habits become their habits. Practice and observe what you tell your kids. Don’t just lecture them about the harmful effects of excessive screen time. Instead,  practice what you preach.

2. Set clear rules

Plan a screen time schedule that suits your kid’s age. Perhaps, they can only play on your mobile phone for 1 hour a week. This way your child will not grow up to be so dependent on gadgets. There will be enough space for other activities like schoolwork, travel, sports, and vacation. When they get older, it’s normal to need computers to do research and other assignments.

There should be a purpose on why your kids are on their computer or on their phone. Explain also why you are picking up your phone, like “Where do you want to eat? Let’s check for restaurants to visit.” This helps your kids understand that you aren’t just wasting your time idly on your phone. It instills the message that we should have a purpose every time we pick up our phones.

3. Teach them to prioritize their given tasks

You can set your own rules and tell them that on school days, they’re not allowed to play on their mobile devices. Homework and chores should be done before they decide to play. During dinner, eat and chat with each other. It’s not time to talk to people that are clearly not there.

4. Follow the rules

So, you gave your kid’s certain limits, but you can’t abide by it yourself. Be strict in implementing these rules and require everyone to strictly follow them. If not, there are consequences and the most effective one is to repossess their devices. Keep mobile phones and tablets away from your children especially when they are about to sleep.

Schools even prevent kids from using their phones and they can only use them until classes are over.  There are various apps you can use to control the screen time of your kids. It will inform you of how much time your kids spend on mobile apps, websites, and games.

You will be able to set limits, whitelist child-friendly apps, add extra screen time, and even block specific websites and apps if deemed necessary. As parents, we don’t want our kids to be addicted to their mobile phones. So, it’s important to develop new ideas to bond and to plan engaging activities that will bring you closer as a family.

Nothing fuels the fire for math than discovering you can be a math genius! If you’re not sure Abacus will help your child, sign up for a free preview of our class – there’s no obligation to register! Come meet with us, watch some kids in action, calculating at the speed of light! We guarantee you will have fun watching these little geniuses.

About JAMS

JAMS is proud to be the only Abacus math school in Portland and in the State of Oregon certified by the League of Soroban of Americas. Since 2001, we have dedicated to Abacus & Anzan instruction and to building a strong foundation of Mental Mathematics along with lifelong skills. JAMS empowers children to achieve academic success, so they will grow in areas that go well beyond the classroom. JAMS parents can expect their child to improve in 5 different areas: concentration, discipline, problem-solving, time management, and confidence.  This is the teaching approach at JAMS since opening its doors.