Children these days are growing increasingly dependent on technology. Whether it’s an iPad or a games console, it can often feel like our kids are starting to live their lives through a screen. In fact, studies have shown that as of 2014, one in three children had their own tablet computer which enabled them to go online. Gone are the days where kids clamoured for a television or radio in their bedroom – it’s now all about the portable entertainment device. It is claimed that YouTube is now more popular with young people than television is – which shows how times have changed! A lot of parents are concerned for their child’s online security, whilst some just want them to live in the real world. Whichever one you are, here’s some tips on how you can minimise their screen time fairly.
Don’t buy them their own tablet It might seem obvious – but the first step is not to give them their own iPad or smartphone. On average, children are about twelve years old when they receive their first smartphone. As they are approaching their teenage years, where image is everything to their peers, this seems like a pretty reasonable age. However, 21% of children under 8 years old already use a smartphone. Smartphones and tablets can provide important life and social skills to the user, but try buying a family one for everyone to share. That way, you can monitor your child’s use of it, and most importantly they cannot take it into school where it could distract their learning.
Schedule a day out as often as you can
Whether it’s weekly, fortnightly or monthly – do something as a family to get your kids out of the house. No tablets allowed! Studies have shown that more and more children are starting to lose touch with nature. Therefore, get everyone together for a family walk, cycle or adventure activity. Teaching your children about the environment can also set them up for a more sustainable future. If you don’t live near the countryside, many cities and towns also have great days out for kids available. After a long day out in the fresh air, they might be too tired to play on the iPad when they get in anyway!
Turn off the Wi-Fi at night If it’s possible, turn your internet router off at night-time so you child isn’t using their phone or tablet when should be sleeping. Most social media apps and games don’t work without an internet connection, so your child should be less tempted to stay up past their bedtime. If this is unavoidable, keep the family iPad in your bedroom at night, and make use of ‘night mode’ on your devices. This special mode turns the usually blue backlight of electronic devices into shades of red/yellow. The blue light that shines out from screens has been proven to affect our ability to sleep. This is because it interferes with a sleep hormone called melatonin. Switching your devices to ‘night mode’ means that your child’s melatonin will be less affected and they will be more likely to put down the tablet in favour of sleep.