Is there a healthy screen use for you and your kids?

Is there a healthy screen use for you and your kids?

Is there a healthy screen use for you and your kids?

Is there a healthy screen use for you and your kids?

Raise your hand if you have never seen a toddler watching an iPad or a phone at a shop or at a restaurant. I know, it's so simple and practical for a parent to let the kids watch their favourite videos while you finally can enjoy a meal or the company of your friends! Again, raise your hand if you have never seen a child getting cranky or experiencing a tantrum because of a screen time debate? Nowadays, it is easy to enjoy a quiet conversation without destruction or peaceful drink a coffee thanks to the amount of technology available to parents and then also used for the children.

Some situations can be stressful and following the COVID-19 pandemic, many things became harder to be managed especially if you have kids: in short, there are endless reasons why parents make the choices to give kids screen time (e.g., a meeting, cook dinner or answer the phone) and I am not here to judge anyone. Everyone deserves a moment, both adults and children!

It is a fast-changing world and technology became an important part of our lives and consequently, children are now spending more time than ever in front of a screen and less outside: this reduces their outdoor activities and decreases their playtime as well. Indeed, children know very well how to stare at TVs, at phones and they throw tantrums when you are brave enough to ask them to colour a book together. So, why not use screen time management strategies? This may bring benefits to the whole family when screen time is balanced with other activities like family rules, routines and transitions. 

Hence, if you have enough of debating with your kids about their screen time or what to watch and you don't want to feel guilty about using technology with them...... Here are some questions that can support you in negotiating screen time and use in your family:

  • Do you want guidelines about screen time hours? (Don’t forget weekends and school holidays)
  • When can children use screens? (After homework or not during meals?)
  • Where can children use screens? (In the living room only?)

It is crucial to involve all family members when you are creating family rules about screen use. Flexibility should help you in covering weekends and school holidays and every few months you can revisit the rules. I am conscious that there are many of you that have concerns about this topic hence, let’s try to get the best out of it! For instance, try to create a healthy family relationship with screens by talking about screen time together and agreeing on the family’s rules. The Australian parenting website Raising Children (raisingchildren.net.au) offers a five-step guide as a good starting point.

However, don’t forget that children learn best from real-world experiences like outdoor activities, creative play or family reading time. Hence, when you share screen time with your kids, try to convert this time into an interactive, real-world experience that your kids can learn from. Sharing screen time with your kids will bring similar benefits (builds your relationship, learn new things together) as doing any enjoyable activity together.

In the end, it is crucial that you show that you care about things that matter to your kids while having fun together. I must say that I believe that children should be involved in imaginative, unstructured play both indoors and outdoors because an organic environment leads them in developing problem-solving skills, curiosity and creativity, discover themselves. However, I am not judging those using screens with their kids, I am only thinking of the best and healthy way to do that with the aims of bringing benefits to our society! Sometimes, as parents, we should remember that play is the simplest and most pleasant way to develop skills for children, through which they will be capable of achieving their full potential in the future.