“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”
– Fred Devito
Struggling to get the kids off screens?
Trying to keep track of who’s on what, and when?
Don’t know where to begin?
Then welcome to the world of managing screen time!
…and how to choose the right screen time solution that works for – and with – your family, because here at Habyts, tackling screen time is our passion!
The Rise of Screens
Kids’ screen time isn’t a new phenomenon.
In fact, parents and pediatricians have been worried about screen time since the humble television found its place in our living rooms.
Today, you can’t go a week without seeing a screen time story in the news.
And smartphones and tablets are to blame!
Why? Because they’re highly addictive, readily pocketable, and on your kids’ wish list.
And with smartphones and tablets having been around for a few years now, they’re more affordable than ever!
Whether it’s a hand-me-down, a second-hand something or simply parents crumbling to pester power, the average child now gets their first smartphone at just 10.3 years old.
Drowning in a Sea of Tech
Most parents are in the same boat. And it can be a rough ride!
They never imagined their son or daughter’s tech use could get out of hand.
And they are rightly concerned.
But there are seven common challenges parents face when tackling screen time.
And while every family is different, most experience at least two. (Just to be upfront, we created Habyts to address these issues – so we’ve used examples from Habyts to show you what to look for.)
#1 Getting Kids off Screens
Let’s face it; this is probably every parent’s #1 problem.
Some kids throw a tantrum at the mere mention of coming off screens.
For others, screen time interferes with their daily routine or studies.
And there are so many types of screens. Today, the average British household owns 7.4 of them!
Does this reflect poor self-control? Or the fact that young minds are still developing?
To a point, yes. But screen time is addictive stuff.
Every like, text, level-up or tweet triggers the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine. And our bodies crave it!
It’s also important to realise many websites and other digital tools have been engineered specifically to stimulate compulsive behaviour.
Combine this with the fact that screens are everywhere – in the bedroom, lounge, kitchen and your pocket – keeping track of screen time can be a real headache.
So what to do?
You could only charge your kids devices once per week and let the battery run down.
Or you could consider a screen time solution – like Habyts – which easily enforces sensible time limits and schedules.
What To Look For: Effective screen time solutions track your child’s screen time across multiple devices, meaning one hour really is one hour.
#2 Ending Homework Distractions
The internet is a vital source of information for homework and revision.
But it also harbours all manner of distractions.
Forums, social media, video games, YouTube and much more. Who could resist?
And as a parent, how are you supposed to know your child is doing their homework when they say they are?
Many kids are adept at switching between programmes on their laptop or computer at the click of a button.
Your kids aren’t working miracles. They simply know the keyboard shortcuts that count.
And then there is Incognito and private browsing modes which don’t record the websites your kids visit (trust us, your kids will know about these).
So how can you address the temptation of Youtube and games during study time?
You could continue the constant cycle of nagging and surveillance (and bursting through the bedroom door like a one man/women swat team).
Or use a tool which blocks out hard-to-resist homework distractions (while still accessing the crucial online resources they need).
What To Look For: Effective screen time solutions have different modes for Study Time which block distractions such as gaming or YouTube.
RELATED: End screen time struggles, homework hassles and chore wars!
#3 Protecting Young Minds
A recent Childwise study found kids are spending more time online than watching TV.
Which means the small screens – laptops, smartphones and tablets – count just as much as the big ones!
And as parents, it’s our job to safeguard our kids when they’re online, especially now they’re spending more of their time on the internet.
Sure, there are parental controls, but these only apply when your child is at home.
And using public Wi-Fi may not filter out inappropriate web content.
So your kids could be free to look up porn, drugs, weapons, violence, gambling and much more.
And when visiting friends and relatives, can you be sure they have parental controls in place too?
Parental controls only go so far.
So what’s the fix?
Well, you could cross your fingers and hope your child won’t view inappropriate web content when using public WIFI or around friends.
Or you could consider a screen time solution which filters harmful web content and protects your kids.
What To Look For: Effective screen time solutions filter harmful web content on the device, so safe search and browsing is always on.
#4 Motivation and Willpower Sucking
It can be hard to motivate kids these days.
But your kids aren’t demotivated. They’re simply motivated to resist you.
Screens don’t help matters either.
In a world where instant gratification is a mere click away, just being on screens is a reward in itself.
But you have a secret weapon! Screentime (believe it or not).
You’ll be amazed at just what your child will do for their daily screen time fix.
And while we’re not suggesting you exploit it per se, why not reward them with bonus screen time when they do something worth the privilege? It’s an excellent motivator.
Because with earning, there is no entitlement. It’s the reward for following family rules!
Earning means agreeing on a plan in advance – not resorting to spur of the moment bribes.
So how do you put this into practice – and keep your sanity?
You could create a reward chart or marble jar to motivate your kids (and commit to keeping this up to date – including redeeming rewards – so they don’t lose credibility).
Or why not simply automate rewards – like bonus screen time or a trip to the movie theatre? (Yes, Habyts does that too).
What To Look For: Effective screen time solutions offer in-product motivators such as earning points which can be used to unlock rewards or bonus screen time.
#5 Ending Chore Wars
Your kids never have time to lend a hand but have all the time for screens. Or so it seems.
Worse still, screen time can encroach on important everyday tasks such as getting ready for school or doing homework.
And whenever you ask your child to help, “In a minute” is the standard response.
Are modern day kids allergic to household chores?
In fact, research shows that giving kids household chores can help them build a lasting sense of mastery, responsibility and self-reliance.
And they don’t even have to be difficult! That’s according to Marty Rossmann, associate professor of family education at the University of Minnesota.
So it’s official! Getting the kids to lend a hand at home benefits both them and you.
And there is no better real-world motivator than bonus screen time!
So what to do?
You could hide the wifi password until the kids do their daily chores!
Or you could be like Kayla who used Habyts to give her kids more independence when it came to chores and screen time.
What To Look For: Effective screen time solutions let you set your kids tasks, and make screen time the reward. Or simply require tasks to be done before screen time.
RELATED: End screen time struggles, homework hassles and chore wars!
#6 Off-Screen Entertainment
Once your kids put down their screens, you may think the battle is won.
But what will they do now they’re off them?
While some kids will find ways to amuse themselves, others may need a little inspiration.
We all dread the words “I’m bored” or “there’s nothing to do”.
And during school holidays and weekends, the pressure to find alternate activities intensifies.
It may come as a shock to hear your go-to childhood activities (think reading or board games) don’t cut it with 21st Century kids.
But it’s good for your kids to be bored.
“Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.” – Dr Vanessa Lapointe
But knowing that only goes some way to offset the guilt many parents feel.
And while it may be good for your kids to be bored, you’re life would be more peaceful if they weren’t.
What’s the workaround?
Well, you could scourer the internet for guidance, tips and fresh ideas every time you child thinks they are bored.
Or why not check out our blog: 101 UNPLUGGED ACTIVITY IDEAS.
Because managing screen time also means helping them learn to discover their own activities other than screens.
What To Look For: Effective screen time solutions provide valuable guidance and suggestions to help parents address more than just screen time.
#7 Digital Transitioning
Transitioning from one activity to another in a positive way is a behaviour that takes time for kids to master.
And digital transitions are particularly difficult.
When your child gets overly engaged in digital media, it’s really hard to transition to another activity…
…which is why we’re often faced with tantrums – or worse – when we ask them to come off their screens.
But keep in mind – we are asking our kids to buy into grown-up motivations. Kids aren’t interested in our reasons; just what they want.
And because screens are addictive, they often feel they need their screen time fix.
Limiting screen time is about moderation…it’s usually not all or nothing.
It’s like sweets…Too little and kids feel deprived. Too much and they feel sick.
By creating a routine that gradually reduces screen time, you can slowly wean your child off screens.
So what are the options?
You could try to enforce screen time routine and motivate your kids by using one of the quirky techniques covered in this post.
Or you could be like Joanna who used Habyts to help her daughter find time for activities other than Minecraft.
What To Look For: Effective screen time solutions can do more than just tackle screen time. They provide step-by-step guidance to help parents change their child’s behaviour for the better, one step at a time.
So that’s the 7 most common screen time issues in a nutshell. How many have you cracked?
Share your experiences tackling screen time in the comments below.