7 tips to manage screen time

7 tips to manage screen time
How can you help your child develop good habits when it comes to screens? Read our seven tips to find out!

How can you help your child develop good habits when it comes to screens? Read our seven tips to find out!

1. Be mindful about screen time

“Screen time is easier to manage when a child is used to turning the TV or computer on only at specific times or for a specific reason, like to watch their favourite show,” says Thierry Plante, a media education specialist at MediaSmarts. Using a screen shouldn’t become a reflex.

2. Choose quality content.

Focus on programs, videos, and educational games that are tailored to your child’s age group. “You can also encourage her to use screens to create things and develop skills,” says media education specialist Normand Landry. “For example, there are apps for drawing, making up stories, etc. The best apps are those that allow your child to think and actively participate.”

3. Engage with your child during screen time.

For example, talk about what he’s watching, what he’s playing, and what he likes: “What did you like about the story?” “Do you think that could ever happen in real life?” “What do you need to do to reach the next level?”

4. Don’t allow screens in your child’s bedroom.

Otherwise, you might have a hard time managing how she uses them after you’ve tucked her in. It’s also best to turn screens off at least one hour before bedtime. “Light from screens makes the brain think it’s daytime, so the body produces less melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep,” says Cathy Tétreault, founder of Centre Cyber-aide.

5. Give your child a few minutes’ warning before asking him to turn off his screen.

This will keep him from being taken by surprise. Don’t forget that young children have no sense of time. If there are just a few minutes left in the show your child is watching, it’s okay to let him finish it. How would you like it if someone switched off your screen in the middle of your favourite show?

6. Plan screen-free activities.

“To avoid upsetting my son when it’s time to turn off the tablet or TV, I suggest doing other activities he likes, such as drawing, arts and crafts, going to the park, or playing with his toy kitchen,” Andrée-Anne Lalancette, mother of four-year-old Rafael and four-month-old Matias.

7. Accept tantrums.

Some kids will throw a fit when you try to take away their screens. Cathy Tétreault says that parents have to stand their ground. “Being able to walk away from an activity you enjoy when necessary is a useful skill at any age. Remember that your child has everything to gain from doing a variety of activities.”

Too many ads
Young children see ads for unhealthy food on both TV and the internet. According to a recent Canadian study, this could increase their appetite for products that contain a lot of fat, salt, or sugar. Young children are not mature enough to know the difference between advertising and other content. “You can, however, talk to your child about how advertising works and explain that it’s used to get people to buy products,” suggests Landry. “That will help your child start to develop critical thinking skills.” You can also choose ad-free apps.


Photos: Getty Images, Peopleimages.com, and Dreamstime/Kiankhoon


Naître et grandir

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, May–June 2019
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: Catalina Briceño, author and visiting professor at UQAM’s media school