Nowadays, spending time online is part of our daily routine, and it seems impossible to imagine today’s life without internet-connected devices. It is also quite common for many parents to handle their phones to their 1-year-olds for them to get entertained with a colorful but pointless game. As kids grow, they get used to smart gadgets, and they can even become dependent on them if we don’t guide them properly. That’s why we have gathered five useful strategies that will help us monitor and limit the time our kids spend online.
To begin with, we should always set a schedule for our kids to spend online, just as we should do with other important activities, like homework, physical activity, social interactions, and sleep. When we set a schedule for online games or activities, we help our kids learn useful time management skills, which will come in handy in the future. If our kids are between the ages of 2 to 5, they should spend no more than an hour using these gadgets. If they are 6 or older, this limit may rise a bit, without taking time for other activities.
Many kids tend to spend most of their time online mainly out of boredom, so it is our job as parents to get them involved in other activities. Playing board games, building puzzles, reading, playing outside, and practicing a sport are great ways to keep our kids entertained without having to be in front of a screen. We should also encourage our kids to take part in everyday household activities, such as cooking and cleaning, as this can help them learn useful life skills for their future.
When it comes to the time they spend online, we should also monitor their activity. This will allow us to keep track of what they are doing while online, and help them avoid any of the many threats they could be victims of if they’re not careful. The best way to monitor their activity without being too invasive is by using parental control apps so that we can keep track of their social media usage, as well as their emails and texts. We should, of course, let our kids know about this so that they don’t feel like we don’t trust them.
Another strategy we should consider is setting areas of our house where smart devices are “off-limits”, like the dining room, the car, and other rooms. This way, they will get used to not using their phones or digital devices when having dinner or while being in the car, which will eventually become second nature. As they grow, they will be so used to these off-limits areas that they will automatically put their phones inside their pockets while having dinner with friends or a partner, and also avoid texting while driving.
Lastly, we need to remember that the best strategy to monitor our kids’ online time is by setting a good example. Children learn most of their habits by observing and imitating what those around them do. So, in order to help our kids not become addicted to screens is by showing them healthy habits instead. If we prioritize interacting in real life instead of through digital gadgets, as well as physical activities and other hobbies that don’t require a screen, our kids will be quick to imitate this balance, too.