It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges for this generation, how to effectively manage something that is constantly around us, screens. One of the queries we receive from parents and indeed teachers is how to create a healthy balance in the use of screens. From our inception as a company we have always said that the internet is a fantastic resource, but that children of all ages do need guidance and support to successfully and safely navigate the online world. This is particularly true when it comes to the use of screens. Here are our top tips for managing screentime.
Use the 5:1 Rule: The 5:1 Rule is a concept that we have developed through our work with children and teenagers. We encourage them to create a balance in their use of screens by spending 5 hours offline for every hour they spend on a screen. While this may not always be easily implemented it is a great way to get children thinking about the amount of time that they can potentially be spending looking at a screen on a daily or weekly basis. Even better if these offline activities can involve physical exercise and/or face to face interaction with their siblings and peers. From our visits to primary and secondary schools throughout the country we see that sometimes children are just not aware of the actual amount of time they spend using technology. The 5:1 Rule is a great way to start a conversation about managing screentime.
Include everyone! The thing that is particularly unique about screentime is that it is applicable to the entire family! It’s not just children who can spend inordinate amounts of time on screens, parents can also be guilty in this regard. It’s a great idea to lead by example when it comes to screentime. One great way to start this is to encourage a ‘no phone zone’ in your home. As the term suggests it’s an area that is free from mobile phones as a start and depending on how that works it could be extended to other forms of technology too. The important thing here is that your children see the adults in their lives essentially practicing what they preach when it comes to the use of screens.
Explain the implications: Talk with your child about the long-term implications of consistently using screens. In particular let them know about the importance of being screen free for at least 1 hour before sleep. The light omitted from devices affects the levels of melatonin in our brains and this has direct impact on our concentration and energy levels the following day. Obviously, explain this in an age appropriate manner but it is important that children learn that balance is incredibly important when it comes to the use of screens.
These tips are meant as a guide, every home operates in a unique way, every family dynamic is different and ultimately we all communicate in different ways. Once you are keeping the conversation going and trying to role model when it comes to the use of screens you will be one step closer to managing screentime more effectively!