With the kids back in school for another year of learning and extracurricular activities, it’s time for parents to set new schedules and routines for managing their family’s work and school obligations. As you’re setting intentions for a new school year, we’re here to help you create healthy tech habits for you and your kids.
Though S&T’s high-speed broadband network delivers the fastest, most reliable internet you and your children can enjoy, we know there is more to life than just online time! To help parents plan and prioritize, we’ve assembled this handy guide to developing healthy tech habits for their kids this school year.
With open communication and a bit of parental enforcement of reasonable limitations on tech use, parents should feel confident that they can build a healthy balance between screen time and other key aspects of their kids’ lives.
Tip 1: Begin With a Two-Way Conversation
The first step you should take before setting up boundaries and promoting healthy tech habits is to have a conversation with your kids. You can discuss your concerns about their screen time and encourage them to engage in other activities.
As part of the conversation, however, do take the time to listen meaningfully to your children’s online interests and usage. After all, online activity has genuinely beneficial aspects, from communicating with their friends to learning about new ideas, people, and places and even acquiring new skills and hobbies.
By approaching the topic as a team, you can work together to maximize their online time. This also helps build trust with your kids that this endeavor is not a punishment; instead, it’s about better balancing responsibilities and other interests along with their online usage.
Tip 2: Establish Clear and Consistent Screen Time Limits
As part of that open and honest conversation, work together to establish clear screen time boundaries. Parents may choose to set up a daily schedule of periods when device usage is acceptable, while other times are strictly off limits (except, of course, for necessary tasks like homework or additional learning).
Other parents may be more flexible, allowing only a set number of hours spent online daily or weekly. To stay on top of this, apps and certain device settings can be employed to track just how much time your kids spend online.
Please keep in mind, however, that experts say any limitations on screen time should be clearly established and consistent throughout the day and week.
Tip 3: Schedule Other Priorities
Around the same time you’ve set up screen time limitations, consider scheduling other activities. At first blush, these recommendations may sound too rigid and controlled. However, in a tech-saturated culture, the goal is to foster a healthy balance of online and device usage with other priorities and responsibilities.
Thus, consider blocking out a few hours daily for homework and reading. Or schedule at least an hour outdoors or in physical activity of almost any kind. Also, consider planning regular in-person get-togethers with their friends instead of mostly relying on their devices to socialize.
Coupled with the screen time limitations above, many parents (and kids) find that a natural, healthy rhythm between their online lives and other obligations can emerge.
Tip 4: Consider Turning Off Notifications
Another tip parents can consider is turning off all—or at least most—notifications on their children’s devices. After all, it’s the seemingly constant stream of dings from notifications that draws kids back to their devices to check emails, text messages, social media posts, or video updates, even if you’ve managed to get them momentarily concentrating on their homework or outdoor activities.
You could also establish a time frame for limiting notifications instead of outright turning them off. For example, blocking out a two-to-three-hour period between after school and dinner time without notifications may help naturally reduce screen time—and perhaps even encourage actual face-to-face conversation at the dinner table!
Tip 5: Model Good Online and Screen Time Habits
Our last tip is to remember that your kids keep their eyes on you almost as much as you are on them! Thus, it’s essential that you model responsible online usage habits yourself.
The more consistently parents model a proper balance between using their devices and other activities, the more likely their kids will do the same.
Given that your child will have to be on their devices more during the school year, these tips should help you better balance their screen time with other aspects of their lives. Remember the need for open communication, appropriate boundary setting, consistent enforcement of any schedules or limitations, and modeling responsible behavior as best you can. And perhaps these tips will help you better balance your screen time, too!
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