World of Warcraft, X-Box, and a whole slew of other popular video games can be time-suckers for our kids these days. Sadly, young people can be so zoned into their screens that they may miss out on many opportunities around them, including dating experiences, physical exercise, and overall just being able to live in reality. Here are some ways to help teens balance their tech time:
Set Firm Boundaries
In order to make sure that digital reality doesn’t take over your child’s life, it’s critical for you to set boundaries (and stick to them!) about how much time can be spent everyday on video games, social media, and the online world in general. And while The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one hour a day devoted to these things, the truth is that most of our kids are spending way more time than this! During the summer months, it’s all too easy to let screens be the babysitter, but this leads to a whole host of other problems. Work to set and keep boundaries about how much time your kids can use video games; also, have firm guidelines about exactly what kind of content they are allowed to access.
Have Kids “Earn” Their Screen-time
It’s a good idea for parents to have requirements that their kids need to fulfill before they can access their gadgets. For example, maybe they need to make their bed, read for 20 minutes, and play outside in order to be allowed to play video games or obtain the WiFi password. This will help families not resort to digital media as their go-to activity, but to balance it out with real-life and for video games or social media to be viewed as a treat, a break, or something to work toward.
Model Healthy Behavior
Parents can help teens balance their tech time by being wise in how they themselves utilize technology. Too often, we get sucked into our gadgets, and we need to be mindful if we expect our kids to be! Create boundaries not just for the kids at home, but also for the adults. For example, maybe you implement a “no cellphones at dinner” policy, or you might make sure that your kids see you reading, working, or doing something productive more than they see you surfing Facebook or playing video games. More is caught than taught, so be a strong example to your children in regulating your own technology usage.