Younger children are marvellous imitators and they’ll love nothing more than to emulate the behaviours of their parents. That can be a challenge and an opportunity.
How parent behaviours affect children’s screen time
Few parents would argue that their children should spend all day long glued to a phone or PC. Yet that is what those same children often see their parents doing.
This is a nightmare for parents to get right and is further complicated by the fact that technology is now at the heart of our communication. In the old days, a relative might have physically visited but today they’re often calling via the internet and that means lots of phone and PC time.
Add in the increasing blurring of the lines between work and home time, again thanks to technology, and you have children seeing their parents spending ever longer on screens. So, how can they understand why they shouldn’t?
What parents can do
Here are a few key tips:
- when you’re home, put your PC and phone away unless it is absolutely essential you do not (only you will know!);
- if you must work at home, do so in another room where your younger children can’t just sit and watch you;
- don’t sit and idly browse the net on your phone or PC for something to do when your kids are around. Use the time instead to play with them or get involved in some non-technology work around the home;
- only plug devices in for re-charge in out-of-sight places;
- check incoming calls for relevance before answering them. If it’s a casual call, just let it go through to your messaging service and deal with it later when your kids have gone to bed;
- never let technology interrupt time you’ve planned to spend with your children. They will resent it and more importantly, draw all the wrong conclusions from it;
- switch your phone to silent on family days out. Don’t answer calls and respond to texts unless they’re really important and can’t be safely ignored;
- don’t give younger children their own phone or computer. In the former case, that can wait until they’re at an age where they’re spending more time alone and without direct adult supervision. In the latter case, they can use a family shared PC for things like some (limited duration) online fun and homework;
- it would be smart to avoid younger children seeing computers and phones laying around in your bedroom. If you have it, they’ll want it too. Only allow technology in bedrooms much later in life.
These are a few basic steps but they might encourage your children to keep technology in perspective.