Limiting your child’s screen time is incredibly important.
However, it really goes beyond that when it comes to technology and keeping your child safe, happy, and healthy.
Here are some screen time tips that every parent should read.
Research Games Before Getting Them for Your Child
There are plenty of games that aren’t appropriate for all age ranges — and sometimes, it can be hard to tell just by the name or product image.
Before giving your child a game they have asked for, make sure you do a little research first. Find out what the game is about, look at the ratings, and even read reviews if applicable.
Know What the Ratings Mean
Much like movies and TV shows, games have ratings, too.
On games, these ratings provide a quick indication of what’s in a video game or app so that parents can make informed choices. The rating will include the suggested age-appropriateness, content descriptors, interactive elements (like if it includes in-game purchases), and rating summaries.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board provides the content ratings, and you can see exactly what they mean on the ESRB website.
Preview Games or Play Them With Your Child
Nothing will give you a better idea of what a game is about than playing it yourself. It’s important to remember that a game’s rating is just a suggestion, and may not match what you feel is appropriate for your own child.
Another great way to preview a game is to play it with your child, or watch them play it. This way, you can see how your particular child interacts with it. After all, every child is different.
Use Parental Controls
Screening tools are your best friends. It might not always be possible to supervise every second your child spends playing games (online or not). Besides, something unexpected may occur.
Take advantage of screening tools on computers, tablets, TVs, and other devices to block your child’s access to inappropriate material.
Keep Screens in a Common Area
While you don’t need to stand over your child’s shoulder every second of the day, it’s smart to keep all screens in a common area where you can see what’s going on at any given time. When you allow them to take a game console, tablet, or another device behind closed doors, it gets harder to monitor them properly.
Ditch the Screens During Family Meals and at Bedtime
Screens have no place at the dinner table! Not only do they distract and detract from valuable family time, but it’s a bad habit that can interfere with your child’s healthy social and emotional development. Besides, studies show that watching TV can be distracting and lead to overeating.
As for bedtime, screens can interfere with sleep. Devices stimulate your brain, plus the blue light emitted by screens interferes with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. It is recommended that devices get put away at least 1 hour before bedtime.