As parents I think we tend to get excited about all of the things that computers and technology are doing for our kids, but the reality is, sometimes we need help managing their screen time. I know I do! To be honest, our family is a bit technology-obsessed so we have experienced just about every new thing to come along. Desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, you name it…we have it. And as much as I enjoy the many options and opportunities these provide, I do sometimes worry that all these devices are taking up more of our precious time than they should.
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Did you know the average child spends almost 50 hours per week in front of screens? This is outside of school, and the average. That is more time than if they were working a full-time job; accounts for more hours in the day than any activity other than sleep; and is approximately 36 hours above the weekly recommendation for screen time set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The floodgates open when children begin grade school, so how do we handle the grade-school surge?
Well, I’m going to let you in on my “secret weapon” – which ironically takes advantage of technology too! It’s an iOS application called OurPact that was created to help parents guide the mobile habits of their children, as well as teach responsibility through technology.
After conducting hundreds of hours of research with child professionals and then teaming up with parents and industry experts, the OurPact team has constructed an application that keeps the functionality of family life in mind.
This simple app gives parents to power to:
- Schedule internet and app use according to your child’s daily routine, and according to whether it’s a weekday or the weekend.
- Set the number of hours your children can spend on the internet and within apps.
- Block internet and apps, at a touch.
- Allow extra website and app access, whenever you decide, at a touch.
- Block apps (eg. Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) as you see fit.
In addition, OurPact also provides valuable recommendations (something I’m especially grateful for!) Based on child research they recommend the best Internet and App blocking schedules for your child’s specific age.
OurPact is like my electronic “enforcer” and, in those moments when I might be distracted by other responsibilities, plays the role of “bad guy” for me.
No more teenagers up until the wee hours of the morning on school nights, texting or interacting on social media long after we (their parents) have gone to bed! :-)
My personal recommendation is to use the app with the following couple of extra steps:
- Set a timer on their tablets or phones that gives them a “2 minute warning” before the apps disappear, and have them decide – before hopping on their iPads – what they are going to do afterward.
Every family will have different amounts of time that they think is “enough.” What’s important is giving it some thought, creating age-appropriate limits (with built-in flexibility for special circumstances), making media choices you’re comfortable with, and modeling responsible screen limits for your kids.
Technology is an important influence in our lives and in our children’s. It’s important that we embrace the value it adds, while also making sure our kids don’t become so dependent on it for entertainment that they miss out on free, unstructured, and unplugged playtime using their imagination and creativity.
Do you have any tips for limiting screen time and increasing family time that work in your house?
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.