10 simple tips to manage your boys’ screen time
I don’t know about your family, but managing our boys’ screen time can be a constant battle. During weekends and school holidays in particular screen time can easily get out of control. For our tween gaming online with his friends is a social activity. It’s not something I can or want to completely take away. So I decided to research the best ways to reduce and manage his screen time to a healthy amount per week.
I started by going along to a Dr Kristy Goodwin (Digital Parenting Educator) seminar. She emphasised that us parents have to be in control of our boy’s screen time as they are not able to regulate it themselves. Hubby and I have seen it first hand. Too much screen time impacts negatively on our boy’s behaviour, eating habits and general wellbeing. Dr Kristy also explained how gaming impacts on our boy’s brains and the consequent behaviour we see.
I came away from the seminar feeling empowered and read some more articles from various parenting experts. I came up with some strategies and it’s these tips I’m sharing which seem to be working so far. Grab a cuppa and have a read. I’d love to know your thoughts.
- Agree on a daily limit for gaming or screen time. Stick to this limit.
- Have frequent breaks when playing for longer periods of time. I found that when my son was 10 years old he needed more frequent breaks than what he requires now at age 12 years. We let him know the time he needs to stop playing before he starts and give a 10 minute warning before the time is up. You could even set a timer.
- Come up with an incentive for breaks. This could be a fun screen-free activity, playdate or their favourite snack ready to eat. Get your boys to come up with different screen-free activities to do on the holidays. I get them to write their ideas down on paper and we stick them on the fridge. You’ll find 50 screen-free activity ideas on our blog site. I also like to stock up on art and craft supplies for my creative 9 year old.
- Spend more time out of the house. Aim for half a day at home and half a day out during school holidays. If we aren’t home all day there is less temptation for my boys to be on screens. Plan at least a few days out ahead of time or organise a family day trip if you’re not heading away. School holiday programs are great for breaking up the days too.
- Before screen time do something active or outdoors. Even just a walk or bike ride to the local shop or cafe makes a difference with my boys.
- Before gaming checklist. We have agreed my son will eat breakfast, do his chores, get dressed and brush his teeth. He now does all of this before even asking if he can play games online.
- Speak to the parents of those kids your boys are playing with online and agree on time limits together. When boys’ are playing in a group it can become difficult to enforce time limits. Organise a specific time where they can play together and when they are to get off.
- Focus on screen-free activity when organising playdates. When our boys are having a playdate, us Mums are now making sure they’re doing something active or outdoors for the majority of the time.
- Quality over quantity. With screen time in general we look at what our boys are watching as well as how long they’re watching for. I’m happy for my son to spend more time on YouTube, if he’s watching documentaries or creative how-to-make videos.
- Try and demonstrate healthy screen habits by limiting your own screen time.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I don’t consider myself a parenting expert but as a Mum these are the strategies that have helped us reduce our boys’ screen time. Please share any feedback or other tips you may have in the comments below. We’re all in this together. Belinda x