Kids and screen time is a slippery slope that parents deal with everyday. With all the media that’s readily available in televisions and the internet, kids can be vulnerable to inappropriate messages. Obviously, we can’t totally ban screens at home. But there are steps we can do to keep our kids safe.
Talk to your kids
This is perhaps the most essential parenting tip in this situation. Having open conversations with your kids about what they see on TV will lower that barrier and let them know you’re there if they want to discuss anything.
When watching TV, take the opportunity to reflect on some scenes. Start a conversation with them by asking questions like, “What do you think about the fight that the characters had? Do you think they could have solved the problem without fighting?” or “What do you think about the party the teens went to? What would you have done if you were in that situation?” Or you can just directly ask your child if they have any questions for you.
Another thing is to let them know what’s appropriate and inappropriate. This helps them understand the messages better and raise that internal red flag when it’s supposed to go up.
Watch TV with them
One question you should really ask yourself is this: Do you really know what your children are watching? The best way to find out is to actually watch TV with them.
We know it’s easier said than done. Many of us tend to use television as a distraction so we can do some chores or prepare dinner in peace. While that can work so long as you check the programs, even just glancing every now and then or listening in while you’re washing the dishes will help a lot. Aside from knowing what they’re watching, you’ll also be able to provide input whenever necessary.
Still, we recommend finding the time to watch TV as a family. This way, your kids will know that they have your full attention. Another pro tip is to purchase a soundbar so those family movie nights would be more immersive and enjoyable – both for you and the kids.
Check the programs
Even with rating systems in place, they may not necessarily be “parental ratings”. Some scenes in movies may still not be appropriate, so you have to be sure to check the programs your kids are watching.
A quick search on the internet will tell you if you have any scenes to worry about in a particular movie or show. Plus, you can also choose programs that teach family values and learning.
Limit screen time
This one’s obvious, but it’s a solid reminder parents should always keep in mind. Television, as well as mobile phones, should be limited to two hours max everyday. Getting their eyes off the screen once in a while will stimulate imagination and improve their cognitive development.
In the end, TV should always be just a part of your kid’s day. They should still be engaging in playtime, reading, or any hobbies they have right now.