Two strategies for keeping ‘screen time’ under control

28858038_SThe world of technology moves forward rapidly. Between video games, phones, iPods and tablets, it’s not difficult to see why the average child is spending too much time with electronic devices. Here are two strategies for keeping ‘screen time’ under control.

Time limits: Research shows that time limits can be effective if they are enforced. Restrict screen time to weekends if your kids have a heavy homework load or get easily distracted or rushed. Maybe your children do better with a break after school, and a short period of screen time is a way to decompress before diving into their home work. If your child is a reluctant worker, a screen reward after a successful homework period can be a big motivator. Just be sure to cut off technology well before bedtime so everyone can calm down from the stimulation.

Location restrictions: Many parents choose to limit the locations in the home where their kids can use technology. Studies show that children often spend more time with family if they are using electronics in a central location of the home. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents do not allow televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms. The AAP also recommends that parents turn off the TV and cell phones during dinner time.

Having a variety of other options as alternatives to screen time will prevent claims of “I’m bored!” or “What can we do?” Reading and physical activity are two great ways that your family can spend time together without screens. Set individual and family goals with a plan to celebrate after goals are reached. Parent involvement — from reading and being active to following similar time limits and restrictions — will show children that you value technology for its benefits, but also know that excessive amounts are too much of a good thing.