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Realistic Ways to Manage Kids’ Screen Time

How much screen time is too much? There are no easy answers—particularly given that it depends on the ages of the kids involved and what kind of lifestyle your family has. But lots of parents want to limit screen time a little bit, so here are a few tips to make that possible.

Set a Curfew

Using screens just before bedtime is not a good way to settle into a sound sleep (and not just for kids, by the way). That’s why it’s important to set a screen curfew and stick to it. You can even remove the temptation all together by taking phones away before getting ready for bedtime.

Keep Screens Out of the Bedroom

Granted, it’ll be pretty hard to keep a smartphone out of your kids bedroom. But if you’re worried about late night or unmonitored screen time, consider keeping computers, TVs, game consoles, and tablets in the common areas of your home.

Institute No-Screen Day

If you have younger children, consider banning screens one day a week. It’s a nice break from monitoring hours spent in front of a screen, and besides, they have plenty of other things that they can do with you. Even doing nothing is fine sometimes. After all, daydreaming is an important skill.

Manage Your Own Screen Time

You know what they say about kids learning by example. If you’re glued to your phone over breakfast, it’s hard to blame a kid for doing the same thing.

Use Technology

Are your rules not sticking, or do you need just a little help laying down the law? Fortunately, there are some technological solutions.

Passwords: The easiest step towards controlling the devices in your home is by controlling passwords. Obviously this isn’t always a great 24/7 solution—after all, you aren’t going to type in a password every time they want to use the phone. But it’s useful if you’d like to control their video game access or if they’re grounded, for example. Keep in mind that you control the most important password in the house: the Wi-Fi password. We know lots of parents who won’t give up the new Wi-Fi password until their kids are done weekend chores, or they’ll change it over the holidays so that devices won’t be a temptation when it’s time for family to be together.

Parental Controls: Nearly every device these days has some parental controls. They let you restrict Internet access, purchasing ability, hours of operation, games with restricted access, and more. Don’t want your kid using their device after 9PM? Parental controls can probably help you with that. Make sure you password protect whatever you do, though. There isn’t much point to parental controls otherwise.

Guided Access: If you have younger children, guided access is pretty handy. Offered on many tablets, it lets you restrict certain apps and functions, often by simply entering a passcode.

Cellular Services: If you have a family plan, your provider may let you suspend or reinstate services by logging into your account and clicking a few buttons.

Disable the Device: This only really works with devices that don’t need batteries, like game consoles, but it works very well. Want to ensure that a device can’t be used? Like, for example, if your kid is grounded but you won’t be around to watch them all day? Take the power cord.