In every aspect of life, we need to find balance. This can be difficult because, as human beings, we tend to become obsessed with things and activities. Addiction to screen time is a genuine thing. Once we create a habit in something it can be difficult to break that habit. Excessive screen time is a common issue and can be a difficult habit to break. Especially when so much of our communication and entertainment is done through screens. People of all ages are guilty of this and it’s up to us as parents to ensure that we are setting a good example on how our children should manage their screen time versus their everyday activities.
Here are some tips to help encourage children to spend less time online and more time in the real world.
Constantly controlling screen time isn’t a long-term solution
Always cracking down on kids hard will only encourage rebellious behaviour. Telling someone, especially younger people that they cannot do something only makes them crave wanting it more. Instead, let’s aim to educate them and let them make their own decisions when it comes to deciding on their screen time. Allow them the independence of using their devices whenever they want if they have completed the necessary tasks, such as homework, chores, and exercise.
Take on an extracurricular activity
Having an extracurricular activity is often never an issue in Primary Schools, however, as many transition into Secondary school, it begins to dwindle away and become less of a priority. In Secondary schools, we should really encourage students to keep up a sport or an interest. Especially activities that might be outdoors or at least outside the house or school and away from technology. It encourages them to continue to meet new people in the flesh and work on communication skills. Also, the only way to find out what your child may like or be talented at is to expose them to it.
3. Disconnect on the weekends
Teaching kids the importance of spending time with family and friends on the weekends will instil good values in them. We can often get too caught up with being online and being too invested in other people's lives online that we forget that we have a whole life to live in the real world. Ensuring that our students maintain healthy offline relationships is key. Our devices should serve as only a bridge between us and our connections. For example, with our children, we should encourage them to mostly use their devices to organise meeting friends and arrange activities in person. As a family unit, a decision should be made to disconnect from online activities at the weekends and we must lead by example. Spending quality time together will help children forget about devices and be more engaged in family life.
Treat time spent online as a reward
When we think of rewards we normally think of a monetary reward, however, this doesn't always need to be the case. While one child may be motivated by extra TV time, another child may be motivated by a trip to the park. So offer rewards that are specific to your child's interests and needs. You can offer screen time rewards in 15-minute intervals. If your child follows the rules or completes their chores before school, they might earn 15 minutes of screen time. If they have a good day at school, they might earn 15 more minutes. Or, if they complete their homework quickly but correctly they might earn an evening of being online. This is all dependent on what you want to offer your child.
Understand the value of being online
Encouraging children to extend their online activities beyond entertainment alone can also enable them to develop a range of technical and critical capacities. Parents play a key role, by talking to children about what they do online or by doing activities together. Support from parents enables children to engage in a wider range of online activities, improves their skills, and reduces their exposure to risk. Our children are so lucky to have the privilege of the internet and devices. Being able to learn online and have digital skills, they already have the upper hand. Once children understand this, they will appreciate their time spent online more, make better use of the internet and also be safer online.
Zeeko Internet Safety Seminars
As there is so much information surrounding the internet and how to be safe online, we understand that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Zeeko Education provides Internet Safety training both virtually and on-site to suit every school’s needs. Some of our packages also include parent seminars to ensure you are up to date with the most relevant information for your child, their class, and their age group. Read more on our seminars here or forward this link to your child's teacher.