Now, by age 2 most children can effectively operate most electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones, and game consoles! As a parent, you have more than likely faced the battle of the devices, which is the disagreement you have with your child over how and when to use them! If this struggle is real to you, we recommend you simply follow our Rule of E’s: Educational, Extra time earned, Equality, and Enforcement. Keep reading to see a breakdown of the E’s!
Educational: While battling in an imaginary field in hopes of being the sole victor, all while yelling into a headset at your friends is fun, there is not a big educational purpose to it. If your child wants extra time on the electronics outside of the daily limit, make them use educational apps or websites! Unlike our video games back in the day, educational games are actually fun and come in a variety of subjects. Monitor their educational play time and quiz them about it afterwards to ensure they are actually learning and not just secretly playing!
Extra time earned: If the daily time limit doesn’t seem fair to them, this is a great time for them to earn extra play time and you get household chores done! Set up ways for them to earn extra time for doing extra chores. It shouldn’t be the chores they are already supposed to be doing, like cleaning their room or putting dirty socks in the laundry, but extra chores they successfully complete. For example, washing/drying/folding a basket of laundry will earn them 15 extra minutes of screen time. Unloaded the dishwasher? Awesome. 10 minutes extra. Make a chart with additional chores and what they are worth…so when they want extra play time, they can sign up using the chart so you know who earned what. This is also a great way to encourage good grades!
Equality: Game time is fun, but it is not a reason to not go outside or have any other form of playtime. Keep the amounts equal! If they want an hour of screen time a day, then they must also read or play outside for an hour. You also want to keep it fair between siblings. Count time spent on the cellphone as a part of their daily limit. After all, it’s not fair for big brother to play games on his phone all evening while the younger siblings without a phone do not get to play!
Enforcement: This is the hardest part…enforcement. When an hour is up, let them finish the current level and shut them down. Adding on additional time not only sets up the image that you will cave to their adorableness, but also does not encourage them to work for extra time. Of course, there are exceptions to this, such as summer break, long road trips, etc. Look at the current situation and set rules accordingly. Don’t be afraid to confiscate devices and look at gaming history, time used, browser history, etc., to ensure they are playing safe!
As much as we use our gadgets in adult life right now, imagine what it will be like for them when they are parents. Electronics are a large part of our future, so it is great to be able to get your children accustomed to them early on in life, but they shouldn’t control your life. The next time you are having the big electronics debate, remember your E’s…it should make it easy!