As a parent I can attest to the fact that figuring out the minefield of screen time can be stressful and confusing. We all want what’s best for our children and this is the first generation of kids that are growing up completely entrenched in technology. A decade ago smart phones hadn’t come out and there was no binge watching a show unless you spent weeks taping episodes. We are the ones responsible for setting limits and determining how harmful or helpful media consumption is. As a company that produces games intended for children we take the issue of screen-time very seriously. Our mission is for our products to be educational and enriching. Here are guidelines and additional resources for managing screen time:
1. It’s about quality and quantity- Just because a given media is educational doesn’t mean your child should have access it to it 24/7. We recommend up to an hour a day of approved media engagement. If your child needs the computer for school this time can be in addition to that. Check out Common Sense Media for specific guides on TV shows, movies, and general tips
2. Set up firm rules with your kids and lead by example- Children do best when they know what the expectations are and you lead by example. Make sure that you’re putting down the phone and computer for quality time with your kids.
3. Keep them busy- If there is nothing to do it’s far more likely that you’ll hear complaints about wanting to spend time watching TV and being online. Have a “bored” box with age appropriate crafts, games and ideas. Check out community boards for free activities and be willing to join your kids outside for a nature hike, game of tag, or sport of their choice
4. Engage in media with your child- If you have young kids this is hard because screen time can be one of the few breaks a parent gets, however, children get more out of media if a parent is watching with them. Ask your children questions about what happened, discuss reality versus fiction. Spend time researching or watching fun YouTube videos of content your child doesn’t understand or is interested in.
5. Choose wisely. Not all media is created equal and while it’s okay for a child to have a guilty pleasure encourage media consumption that requires active participation and teaches a concept. Make sure to reinforce what your child has learned
Done correctly, media consumption can be a tool to teach your children new concepts, reinforce learning, and even to bond with peers and family. Wishing you all happy viewing and playing.