In the modern family a tablet is a useful thing to have around the household. Kids can use it to play games, watch videos, read books, study etc. If an iPad appears in the family, be ready for your offspring to have dinner, play Minecraft and text on Whatsapp all at the same time and then fall asleep with the tablet in their hands. What’s the way out? If you just take the gadget away, more likely than not it’ll cause some push back. In this article we’ll discuss some different ways of dealing with screen time addiction based on parents’ experience and the advice of psychologists.
So, how can we take a tablet from a child without placing unnecessary stress on the relationship?
Be an example
First, take into consideration that you will have to teach your child by your own example. Children tend to copy their parents’ behaviour. So if when you’re at home you keep tight hold of your iPad, then your child might have a hard time understanding why you’re allowed to do that but they’re not. Consequently, if you want to limit your son or daughter’s access to the tablet, think about whether you can comply with any rules you set first. Rules perceived to be inherently unfair have a tendency to be less effective. Of course, this might mean lifestyle changes for yourself too, especially if you’re into playing games or monitoring social media on the tablet, at the very least you’ll need to cut down on using it in full view of your child.
Establish transparent rules
When establishing rules for using the iPad, you should make them simple and understandable. For instance, the list of apps which they are allowed to play and the place where they can use the tablet could be strictly limited. Show the child the place where you want them to be when they use the tablet. It might be their room, a desk or even a sofa in the living room. Perhaps set an exception for this rule when the tablet is shared by two or more family members, for example, when watching a family movie, working with educational apps or playing a game where several players are involved.
Clarify when the tablet can be used
The time when the child can use the tablet should be clearly specified. It might involve some conditions: homework done properly, room cleaned, dinner time, dishes washed – there can be any number of such limits, but don’t push your kid too hard. Note that allowing a child to play games on the tablet just before bedtime is not a good idea, instead, you might allow an audiobook or quiet music on the same device.
Limit the screen time of your iPad addicted kid
Here you can be flexible with solutions, from self enforcement to alarm clocks and kitchen timers through to specialised time limit software. There are a number of different schools of thought when it comes to the amount of screen time that’s appropriate for children to have. Some advocate for a specific number of hours per day (e.g. 2 hours or less for school age children), others think any amount it ok so long as children still fit physical activity, homework, appropriate amounts of sleep etc. into their day. Whatever amount you consider appropriate, remember that time spent on tablets, phones, desktop computers and TV all counts towards their daily screen time.
Establish what kinds of app are allowed
Explain to the children what apps, movies or books they can access on the tablet. If you notice that some programs are especially addictive to your child or have a negative impact on their mood, it’s probably better to uninstall them, suggesting an alternative for them to use instead. You might also choose to forbid your child to download and install mobile applications on the tablet. If they then download something without permission , it should be immediately removed.
Parental control software
All of the areas mentioned above can be controlled with the help of a parental control app. By using special software you’ll be able not only to set boundaries for the allowed limit of time but also set schedules for weekdays and weekend usage and block apps. Additionally, you can even ensure your child’s browser safety by blocking bad websites. Apps of this kind provide a customisable checklist of parental control settings over your kid’s iPad.
There’s no single solution for such a complicated problem. We advise parents to experiment to find an approach that works well with your children. Never stop talking to your kids and encourage responsibility. And don’t forget to spend plenty of time with your family, plan leisure activities together and encourage your children’s enthusiasm and curiosity wherever it appears.