Updated: May 2, 2019
Everybody always asks about screen time- how much, when and where?
I used to come home from work and was happy to switch on the TV for my children while I enjoyed a cup of tea/ glass of wine as I made dinner! The children were quiet and I loved having some peace!
Nowadays, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding digital media use for children under 12 months and advises an hour a day of screen time (or less) for ages 2-5 years. New advice from the World Health Organization is we all need to encourage our younger children to watch less TV and become more active. While it is hard to stop children from watching TV or playing on tablets (especially because as parents we like to have some down time while the kids are entertained by Disney), we have to find the right balance of TV and other activities.
As my children became older, I needed to monitor and restrict media usage. This was hard.
My rules were no cell phones at the dining table, no TV/ video games in bedrooms and when doing homework, the kids had to put their phones away. I also asked my teenage children to switch off their phones at a certain time each night but I am sure they used their phones after their curfew! My friend used to take her kids' phones away from them at night- there was a lot of grumbling but she made it work!
Setting boundaries before your child has their first phone will help with expectations. I also examined my behavior- do I look at my phone all the time? Am I listening to my children or am I looking at my laptop and reading my texts?
We can all be role models for our children. If we put our devices down and communicate with our children, we can teach them important lessons.