How to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time
You might feel overwhelmed when it’s time to enforce screen-time rules for all the devices your kids use. “It was much easier when all we had was TV and videos, because we could, say, place limits based on the number of episodes a child watched,” Radesky says. Still, there are easy ways you can keep their time with media in check.
Plan ahead. Let your kids know that TV, tablet, or phone time is only allowed at certain times of day or on the weekends. “It's always helpful to have a schedule or routine, since preschoolers are very routine-driven and will tend to accept limits better this way,” Radesky says.
Make rules about where your family watches screens, such as in shared spaces like the kitchen or living room. Discourage devices at dinner, during family time, and in bedrooms. Research shows that kids with TVs in their rooms get less sleep.
Set a timer. When it buzzes, your child’s time with their screen is up.
Stop tantrums before they start. Kids often get upset when they have to put down their technology. As they switch off the screen, you might play a game based on the shows they like or have another activity ready for them.
Out of sight, out of mind. When screen time is over, try storing tablets, phones, and other devices where he can’t see them.
What to Do When the Screens Are Off
Preschool children need lots of face-to-face interaction to help them learn social and motor skills, Sowell says. You can help remind kids that there are many more exciting things to do than to stare at a screen.
Read together. “It helps build language and literacy skills, promotes emotional connection, and gives the child time to be calm and attentive,” Radesky says.
Use your imagination. Unstructured play helps your child learn social and emotional skills and how to solve problems.
Move around. “It could be dancing, running, making a fort, or play-wrestling, but studies suggest that physical movement helps children focus more and channel their energy,” Radesky says.
Try hands-on activities. Build, color, craft, or cook with your kids. “These are important for learning to collaborate, building social reciprocity, carrying out a plan, and building visual-spatial awareness,” Radesky says.