No matter what you do, you cannot avoid technology. It’s always there, and that’s a good thing.
Technology is a wonderful resource if it’s used in the right way. When you throw children into the mix the results can be drastically different depending on the child and the situation.
As a family, we have technology rules for our children that we enforce, whether we are at home or on vacation. There are no exceptions. We have found these rules to be rewarding and productive for our little ones. They are not dependent on any screens, yet they know what cell phones, tablets, and televisions are, how to use them, and when the appropriate time to use them are.
I would like to share our family’s 5 proven technology rules for children under 5. These rules are easy to understand, quick to enforce, and will help children understand the principle of moderation and discipline.
As you read through this article, remember the key to success with these rules is open communication with your children and consistency. It’s important that parents and children work together.
5 Proven Technology Rules for Children Under 5
1. Limit Time
Limit the amount of time your children spend in front of a screen. For our family, our children have 90 minutes of television time a week. That’s only one Disney movie or three episodes of Paw Patrol or My Little Pony. Yes, they are the ones who choose what to watch, but they are held responsible for their choice. To help limit their time we have a designated “television day” where we know we will be home.
By limiting your child’s television and screen time, you are helping to encourage them to explore and play with the other objects around them. It’s perfectly wonderful for a child to be bored. They need to know what boredom feels like and how to cope with those feelings.
2. Earn Time
Give children assigned responsibilities to complete before they’re able to spend time in front of a screen. I understand that smaller children may have difficulty performing large actions. However, it’s easy for a one-year-old to hand you a toy, or for a two or three-year-old to put books in a basket.
As you assign your children certain tasks to complete before their screen time is given, remind them that work needs to be done before rewards are given. This is a great way to help children correlate the idea of work with rewards. And never be afraid to say, “sorry sweetie, you didn’t earn your screen time this week.”
3. Parental Supervision
Never turn on the television or play a YouTube video and walk away to have the screen babysit the child. You never know what will be playing during the commercials or within the content of the show. Children are impressionable and have a beautiful innocence about them. They need parents who will turn off a show if something inappropriate starts playing. They need parents who will teach them what is acceptable and what is not.
4. Reward – Not Necessity
Use technology as a way to reward your children for completing their chores (see rule #2). Make a big deal about all the hard work they completed and how proud you are of them. Never be afraid to praise your child.
When special events come up, such as their birthday, if there is a movie they really want to see in theaters or at home, give them that opportunity. Remind them that birthdays are a special event to be celebrated, not an exception to the rule.
Going hand-in-hand with rule #3 of parental supervision, be very selective about what you and your children bring into the home. What is the media they are consuming teaching them? Are the things your child is learning what you want them to remember and imitate? If not, I strongly encourage you to change that portion of their media consumption.
As you limit your child’s screen time, help them earn time, provide parental supervision, use technology as a reward, and be selective in what you bring into your home, you will raise children who understand the value of technology. They will understand what an amazing resource technology is and realize the value, along with its downfalls, as they get older.
Remember, the key to success with these rules is open communication. Begin this pattern when they are young and maintain it throughout their childhood. If your children are older, start today, it’s never too late.
Are you trying to limit your children’s screen time? What are some of your biggest struggles with this? Leave a comment and let us know below!
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