Media consumption doesn’t have to be all or nothing. When school is back in session, encourage a balanced relationship with devices in your home.
There’s a difference between creative, productive screen use and mindless clicking. Rather than trying to keep your child away from screens come September, encourage them to practice positive screen use. Here are six ways.
Set an example
Einstein said, “Setting an example isn’t another way to teach; it’s the only way.” Studies show that the amount of time parents spend in front of the TV has a bigger influence on kids watching too much of it than if they have a TV set in their room. Model good tech habits for your kids so you can create a positive screen culture in your home.
Just like you can’t hand your child a pamphlet and expect them to develop healthy eating habits, you can’t hand your child an iPad and expect them to develop healthy screen habits. Expressing an interest in the games, programs and apps they’re using makes it easier to know what’s constructive and what’s not and how much time with a particular device or program is too much.
Make screen limits and “what’s OK” something you and your child decide on together. Be perceptive to your child’s mood before and after screen use, and prompt them to be conscious of it too. Help them understand for themselves why being glued to an iPad for hours isn’t always fun. They’ll be more likely to adhere to their “home culture” when they’re involved in creating it.
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Take screens out of the bedroom
Did you know that the blue and white light emitted by laptops, when viewed at maximum brightness for two hours, is enough to suppress the normal nighttime’s release of melatonin, a key hormone in activating the body clock? Try to keep laptops and iPads in high traffic, communal areas of the house to promote use at times that won’t mess with sleep.
Make sure you and your child explore sources of magic in the tangible world together. Hit the library, explore the playground with a map and compass, make cool crafts and cook. Teach them how to be creators in the real world as well as on the internet.
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Make your own media! Encourage tech-interested kids to experiment with digital photography and Photoshop or to foray into blogging. These activities require going out into the real world and exploring and then coming back and using screens in a creative way. Let kids use screens to explore and cultivate interests. That’s screen time well spent.