How to Make the Cut continued...
3. Add tech-free time to your family’s schedule. “At any age, kids should know there are specific times when screens stay off, like at meals and before bed," Hill says. Even better, set aside time every week when the family does something fun together -- no devices allowed.
4. Watch how often you use your own devices. If you keep your face buried in your phone, your kids won’t see a good reason why they should get off their screens. Plus, those devices affect the time you spend with your children. Researchers who studied families at fast-food restaurants noticed parents were often more focused on their smartphones than on the children at the table.
5. Make limits a regular part of screen use. When the rules are clear and consistent, you can avoid daily battles when you tell the kids it’s time to turn off the TV, computer, or phone.
6. Be ready to explain different screen-time limits. After your kids have watched hours of TV at a friend’s house, they may wonder why your rules are different. “These are opportunities to have conversations with your kids about what your family’s values are,” Anderson says.
7. Help your kids find other ways to have fun. “If a child has nothing to do but stare at a screen, then we should not be surprised when that is what he or she does,” Hill says. Keep other options -- art supplies, books, Frisbees, and bikes -- around and ready when your kids claim there’s nothing else to do.
8. Make tech work for you. Use programs and apps that you can set to turn off computers, tablets, and smartphones after a given amount of time.
9. Adjust screen-time limits as your child gets older. “For middle-schoolers and teens, parents may want to involve them more in the decision-making process,” Hill says. You could talk with them about how much screen time the whole family should get. Once you’ve settled on a plan, stick to it.
10. Consider donating or recycling your old electronics. “Usually households have a lot of devices, and they get left over and moved to other places,” Gortmaker says. “It’s good to do an inventory and see if you just can’t limit the technology.”