How Much Screen Time?

This was just going to be a post on screen time for kids but with all the recent posts regarding the horrendous Momo Challenge, I couldn’t simply ignore it. So as well as thoughts on screen time for kids, I’ve also got a few tips for keeping your children safe online.

How Much Screen Time

Okay, so I’ve never been a huge fan of allowing the children lots of screen time. Don’t get me wrong, I have used T.V, phones, and devices with the children; they have their own Kindles. But I also feel we are quite strict with screen time. The children are only allowed their Kindles when we are going on long car journeys (over 90 minutes) or at certain points during the school holidays. They are put away during term-time as I just don’t feel they are necessary.

However, as Isabella moves through year 2, I feel there’s more and more need for her to access educational apps and to become more aware of using devices and the internet. This got me thinking about how much screen time she should be allowed! Of course I am always going to do what sits well with me, but I also thought I’d get some opinions from other parents to see what they thought. I was surprised to see how split the opinions were (I don’t know why I was shocked really but I though it would be more of an uneven split than it was).

So What Do Other’s Think?

Katy “I don’t limit screen time for my daughter, instead I make sure that we have lots of activities planned for our days together.” Although Katy doesn’t ‘limit’ screen time, she doesn’t allow the device out the house – see what Katy does here.

Katie, Leona and Kristine tend to try to find educational apps and games which help improve their child’s development as well as having fun. Leona also reminds us of the importance of actively watching with your children so you can have conversations with your children.

I really like Ian’s idea – “When my lot were younger I made them earn screen time. If they read a book, did homework, did something creative for say half an hour, they then got half an hour screen time. The first thing I got them to do was design and make their own week planner to record both screen time and non-screen time activities and minutes. Now they are older, they are all pretty good at self-regulating. Plus I’m fortunate with where we live during weekends and holidays my boys are out and about playing with mates so those periods regulate themselves too.”

Other’s like me, are a lot more ridged with screen time and limit what the children plat or watch. Jenny has similar views to me in that they use screens for long journeys and also encourages her children to play CBeebies apps rather than just watching TV.

How I’m Going Forward

With all this in mind, I’m starting to relax my views on screen time. Although I am still going to be relatively strict, as I really don’t feel it’s needed at this point, I am going to look at certain apps and educational sites that could help Isabella in her learning. We’ve recently come across a couple of maths apps which Isabella seems to be enjoying, Prodigy and Rock Star Times Tables seem to be quite good at the moment and Isabella’s school have also got a learning platform which they can use to aid their learning.

One thing is for sure though, my children have never had ‘free’ access to YouTube and I don’t think this is going to change any time soon. Although on a few occasions we have watched phonics songs, nursery rhymes or times tables songs together, it’s not a site I’ve ever allowed the children to explore. Now with all the horror stories surrounding the Momo Challenge, I am just not going to use YouTube around the children unless I am watching the video with them. We’ve recently found a fantastic American Primary School Teacher who sings the times tables to well known songs and this has helped Isabella enormously. I feel it would be a real shame to stop watching this altogether but I am going to be more careful with YouTube.

So What Can You Do To Help Your Kids Stay Safe?

Be present. I think this is the most important thing. If you are giving your child a device, watch or play with them. Make the moment a learning or interactive experience. Do not use devices as a babysitter.

Turn parental controls and safety setting on! It might seem obvious but go through the sites and device settings and ensure they are as strict as they can be.

Set up restrictions on Safari

Turn off in app purchases – you may have already done this but double check – it could have you money too!

If your children are using the internet, get them using instead of Google

Talk to your children about the Momo challenge as well as other aspects of e-safety and explain that it’s not real. If you teach children that they need to be aware of dangers and that they can talk to you, they are more likely to tell you if something happens online.

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