Parents: 7 Tips For Smart Screen Time

Parents: 7 Tips For Smart Screen Time

From online gaming to social media to video chatting, messaging and selfies, technology is ever-evolving and ever-present in our lives. Children use it to socialize, to do homework, to stay informed, and for entertainment.

While we can’t and shouldn’t cut off access to digital media entirely, it is necessary to create boundaries and exert some control over your child’s screen time. For added peace of mind, Holland Hospital Behavioral Health Services offers these seven tips:

  • Stay in the know. Believe it or not, our children are probably smarter than we are when it comes to technology. We can’t teach them about the risks of the latest social media or video game craze if we don’t understand the potential threats. Make it a priority to educate yourself about electronics and their impact on children.
  • Set limits. Whether you use an app or simply monitor how much time your children spend on their device, set limits. Talk to your kids about the dangers (e.g., online predators) and health risks (e.g., sedentary lifestyle) associated with screen time. Use parental controls to protect your children from explicit content, both on TV and online.
  • Embrace “tech-free” zones, such as the dinner table. Designate specific times when and places where the whole family unplugs. For optimal sleep, set a media curfew at least one hour before shut-eye and keep all devices out of children’s bedrooms.
  • Make screens a privilege, not a right. Take away that smartphone or tablet as a negative consequence to breaking the rules. Don’t use technology as a reward—stick to the amount of screen time you’ve established.
  • Don’t let them go it alone. Co-view and co-engage with your kids while they’re using screens. Interacting with them will help you better understand and be part of their digital experience, whether you’re playing a game or watching a show together.
  • Encourage real play. Kids can grow too dependent on technology for entertainment, so be sure to get them moving outside, get them reading a book, and/or get them in front of a board game. Promote and engage in activities that don’t involve screens.
  • Be a good role model. Scrolling through your phone constantly, checking email at all hours of the day, and binge-watching your favorite Netflix series every Saturday can teach your children bad habits. Model the digital media behavior you want your children to exhibit.

Treating people of all ages in a comfortable and confidential setting, Holland Hospital Behavioral Health Services is dedicated to delivering personalized, compassionate mental health care.

  • Mike Jansen, Ph.D., LP

    Mike Jansen, Ph.D., LP

    Dr. Mike Jansen is a Child and Adolescent Psychologist at Holland Hospital Behavioral Health Services, where he specializes in working with youngsters with mood and behavior disorders; pervasive developmental disorders; and abuse, neglect, and trauma histories. He lives in Grand Haven with his wife and two sons. Dr. Jansen is also a licensed charter captain and enjoys spending his free time taking others fishing. He is also actively involved as a coach for his sons’ soccer and baseball teams, as well as a leader for his sons’ Cub Scout Pack. Mike Jansen, Ph.D., LP

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