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Deciding screentime

How much is too much screentime?

If you’ve ever caught yourself telling your kids “Back in my day we only had access to the tv/radio/landline for <xx> hours a day”, you need to read this article now. Because when it comes to digital devices, screentime isn’t the only factor you need to consider when setting effective ground rules around your home.

Things to discuss before talking about screentime
There is no golden rule or magic formula for screentime - some experts say two hours a day should be the maximum, others say it depends on what your child is actually doing online. As a rule of thumb, if your child is doing well in school, playing sport or other online hobbies, has friends, and seems happy and healthy, you probably have the balance about right. But here are some things you should discuss before talking about time limits:

  • When are they allowed on their device: This is pretty straightforward - after chores and their activities and not during dinner time.
  • What kind of websites they can visit: Encourage your kids to list out which sites they visit frequently and talk about any new sites they visit, especially if it made them uncomfortable.
  • Which games they’re allowed to play: Explain to your kids why you need to screen the game (see them play it). Once you’ve seen them play it, you’re the best judge if they should keep playing it.
  • How much money they spend: We recommend discussing an agreement with your kids on how much money they can spend each month on calls, data, apps and in-game upgrades.

3 simple ways to keep screentime in check
All things considered, screentime in itself can become an issue. Here’s 3 tips to keep it in check:

  1. Watch the clock: If your child’s online life is affecting their routines or their ability to interact with people offline, you need to have a talk.
  2. Recognise signs of distress: For many children, the internet is a place to cope with problems they face at school or other areas of their life. Be sure to keep dialogue open to spot any such developments.
  3. Meet more people: Whether it’s visiting family, having people over for dinner, setting them up for sports or even just setting up a board games night give your child options to interact with people offline and see the value of it. Organise offline activities and opportunities to balance out time in front of a screen.
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