21 October

5 Tips for Limiting Kids’ Tech Use

Introducing kids to technology is a great way to familiarize them early with digital devices. Educational technology also helps them acquire valuable skills like computer literacy and makes learning more engaging and enjoyable. However, children can spend too much time on the devices at the expense of their health and proper development. To prevent the adverse effects of unhealthy tech use, below are a few tips you can use to limit how much time your kids spend interacting with technology.

1. Utilize Parental Controls

Parental controls help you regulate your kid’s online activities by controlling what they can access online.  You can filter content and block those you don’t want your child to interact with, including websites and keywords. Some devices allow you to set limit times on apps and turn the gadget off at specific times.

Besides utilizing parental controls to limit your child’s technology use, you can also ask for your kids’ passwords to their online accounts, including social media. While having your child’s passwords can help you monitor their online activities, be sure to give them some autonomy and privacy.

2. Create Tech-Free Zones and Times

Although tech devices are cool, they should not occupy every space in your home. Your child’s bedroom should be free of any digital devices such as computers, mobile devices, and TVs as they can make it difficult to sleep. Inadequate sleep makes your child less energized to carry out daytime activities. Also, make the dining area a tech-free zone, so kids don’t interact with technology when eating.

Place tech gadgets in a central location where you can easily monitor children using them. You can put them in shared spaces such as the living room or kitchen, where you can easily keep an eye on their activities. Besides creating tech-free zones, prohibit tech use during specific times of the day, such as during meal times, and an hour or two before bedtime. You can also set aside specific times during the week for a family activity that doesn’t involve technology use.

3. Lead by Example

Children are more likely to observe and copy what you do. If your child sees you binge-watching shows or spending too much time on your devices, they will also do the same. If you want your kids to use technology responsibly, model the behavior by living per your rules and advice. Therefore, you should be their role model and adopt healthy tech use habits. Keep your devices away regularly and make time for non-tech-related activities such as reading that your kids can mirror and add value to their lives.

If you must watch your favorite shows or use your tech devices, do so out of the children’s view or presence. Also, avoid keeping the devices on when no one is using them. Note that your children’s screen patterns highly depend on your attitude. Therefore, be cautious not to reinforce unhealthy or bad tech use habits as they can be hard to break once your kids learn them.

4. Encourage Non-Tech Activities

If you have rules restricting tech use, it is only fair to provide alternatives for your kids. One of the best ways to limit your child’s tech use without appearing to be mean is by encouraging fun activities that don’t involve tech. Some fun activities to consider include sports like basketball or tennis, hiking, going for a walk.

Physical activities not only keep your children fit and healthy, but they are also an excellent way to re-energize. Besides physical activities, encourage your kids to practice their hobbies and interests, be it art, reading books, or singing. You can also invite your child’s friends over to socialize and play. Doing so keeps your kid away from technology use while introducing them to other fun and meaningful activities.

5. Set Limits

Setting limits helps kids balance the different aspects of their lives and prevents unhealthy use of technology. Make rules that regulate your child’s tech use and be consistent with them.  Be sure to articulate the consequences of breaking the rules, so the children know what will happen if they disregard them. With clear guidelines and repercussions, it becomes easier to get the child off their devices.

Remember, it is not advisable to introduce technology to children below 18 months. You can, however, allow video chatting and co-watching for kids between 18 and 24 months.  For kids between 2 and 5 years, one hour of screen time is ideal. You can create consistent limits for kids above six years to ensure their tech use does not interfere with critical activities like sleep, meal times, physical activity, or any other activity necessary for their health and development.

With the above tips, you can regulate your children’s use of technology while enabling them to enjoy its benefits. If your child is interested in technology, consider enrolling them in coding classes to nurture their interests and acquire valuable skills for the tech-oriented future.