How Parents are Fighting the Spike in Their Kids' Screen Time During COVID-19

How Parents are Fighting the Spike in Their Kids' Screen Time During COVID-19

The Straits Times
Republished with Permission
16 August 2020

Mr Chong Ee Jay, a family life specialist at charity Focus on the Family Singapore, gives some tips:

Have conversations with your children about their screen time and online habits and explain the reason for your concern or why limits have to be set.

Listen to your children and consider their perspective. When they request more screen time, find out what they do online. By letting them know you are interested in what they do, you are in a better position to engage them.

Tensions often arise when you are trying to set limits. Avoid unilaterally imposing rules on children, as such an approach can cause them to feel disempowered or not trusted. Involving the kids in setting rules promotes accountability and facing consequences.

Parents also need to recalibrate their own expectations as screens are integral to children's lives today. There is no easy solution to weaning them off excessive usage. Recalibrating your expectations may mean not fixating on how much time your children are spending online. Rather, pay more attention to the quality of the digital content they are consuming.

Parents can engage younger children in educational, interactive and age-appropriate videos and games. Encourage older children to create more meaningful content using certain apps and software.

By reducing or better managing their own screen time, parents are setting an example of self-discipline. By prioritising time with family, parents are affirming the value of each family member.

Adhere to family screen-time rules. Ask your family members to hold you accountable or use in-built tracking software in your phone such as Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing.

Create screen-free zones and times in your home, such as having devices off-limits one hour before bedtime and placing computers in full view in the living room.

Use Wi-Fi routers with parental controls or parental apps to manage screen time and content exposure (for example, FamilyTime and Kidslox).

Have more real-life interactions than screen time, such as enjoying a meal out together.

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