Whether it’s in the classroom, at playtime or at home, our children are surrounded by screens and technology. But many parents are asking the question, ‘How much is too much screen time for my kids?’.
In the recent nib State of the Nation Parenting Survey, 7 in 10 parents said they were concerned about their children’s use of technology and the impact of screen time. Of these, 47% were concerned about the negative impact of their child having their own device on health and wellbeing. At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for our family and turning on the TV or bringing out the iPad doesn’t make you a bad parent. Devices are deeply ingrained in modern life and you’re not alone in your concerns. But there are ways to manage excess screen time and introduce healthy habits for the benefit of the whole whānau.
Take a good look at your own device use
When thinking about screen time for our tamariki, we need to look at the screen time for the entire family…and that includes you! nib’s research found that half (50%) of parents couldn’t live without their devices, while 60% said they didn’t model good behaviour with their own device use.
A lot of the time, children will do as you do, not as you say. Reflect on your own device habits – do you use your phone at the dinner table? Do you work from home in a shared space with your children?
Think about the opportunities when you can model positive, healthy behaviours such as:
- Putting phones away at mealtimes
- Working in a different room to your children during the day
- Limiting your screen time when winding down in the evenings
- Picking up a new hobby or going out for activities in the weekends
How do I discipline my kid’s screen time?
It can feel overwhelming managing kids who are glued to their devices – especially when they act out or it’s beginning to affect family relationships – so take a step back and revisit how you’re setting those boundaries.
Getting kids to adhere to rules can be a lot easier when they feel they’ve been part of the conversation. Work out an agreement together and find a healthy balance between what you all need, teaching them about compromise and holding them accountable for what you’ve decided, together.
Alternative activities to get stuck into
Spending time away from devices and doing other mentally or physically enriching activities is super important for children’s development and wellbeing. In fact, a third of parents are concerned with the levels of activity their child is getting (32%).
Take a proactive approach to the health of your whānau and intentionally spend some device-free time getting active outdoors. This could include:
- Going for an evening walk around the neighbourhood as a family
- Encouraging them to join a team sport
- Introducing them to new activities, like bike riding or roller-skating
- Set up a scavenger hunt in the garden
- Have a fun water fight or set up a water slide
- Find a local tramp, bush walk or playground
This is also meaningful time to connect with family and friends, while developing their interpersonal skills and improving their overall health and development.