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Making Device Time Manageable

This is a tough subject! We all have digital devices and smart phones for work, business, school and entertainment and it’s coming out of our ears! We have 8 devices in our house! There are phones, laptops and iPads and there’s only 4 people in the house! In this blog I will share with you a hot tip for managing time spent on devices for your children (and it can work on us parents too!)

Most kids love to get on their devices and play games or watch Netflix for hours! And, while the thought of your child happily engaged in something whilst giving you an hour of peace sounds enticing it really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Digital devices can have negative effects on our children in the immediate sense and in the long term sense also. Anxiety, depression, social isolation, lack of sleep and mental alertness can all be affected by overuse of digital devices. Many studies and research papers are coming to the surface around the world as the latest generation have been the guinea pigs of mobile technology. In the immediate sense you may have seen things in your own child such as difficulty regulating behaviour (meltdowns), feeling tired or wired, change in appetite, difficulty getting to bed at a normal time. All of these things can happen to our children for many reasons, however, digital devices have increased the frequency of these issues greatly.

Right from the age of 2 my little one went on the iPad to play an ABC game. I would give him 10 minutes which I knew was age appropriate for his age and length of attention span. But then each time I told him it was time to get off, he would go into meltdown mode! Sound familiar? Pretty soon I realised I needed to set some boundaries and stick to them in order to help him manage his emotions or this would be a disastrous battle EVERY time.

Here’s what I did. Not only did I start using a timer to alert him it was time up, I also began to say that if he didn’t get off when the time was up then he wouldn’t be able to have a turn tomorrow. Now if you want to try this you have to follow through!

So I did. And some days it was a battle but most days he would hop off straight away and then happily found something else to do. This was the clincher for me, he happily hopped off and found something else to do…

Even now, both of my children ask to play games or watch a show (daily!) and each time if it is convenient (e.g., they have no homework or chores to do) I say, “Yes, you can have 10 minutes.” By limiting the time spent on the device, I am limiting their stress and anxiety and instead promoting physical activity and connectedness to the people around them. Now they are 7 and 10 and still they get their turn everyday but some days they get 20 minutes as I know they can handle that. We don’t have meltdowns EVER about getting off the iPad. Most importantly, they know if they do not comply with these boundaries then they miss out the next day. They know that there is a consequence if they try to go over their time allocation.

I just want to point out here that the consequence may seem like a threat or punishment for not following the rules, however, it is merely to help them understand that there are consequences to each action which I believe is an important lesson in life. Going on a device is a privilege. If they do not comply with the boundaries in our house around devices then they simply do not get that privilege.

So whatever your child’s preferred technology is, think about having some boundaries around the time allowed on it and put in the hard yards to set up the boundaries around this early on and it will not only save you dramas later on around behaviour but it will actually reduce behaviours in your child that could have long term impacts on their wellbeing.

Finally, a reminder that our own relationship around the usage and exposure to mobile devices is critical in shaping our children’s habits. Think about limiting the time you are on devices when around your children and how you choose to spend your ‘reward time’.



Hi! I’m Chalkie.

I want to empower you to feel confident as a parent and to help you gain clarity about your parenting role!

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