How to set limits for your kids tablets and video-games?
As numbers of kids with smartphones and tablets raise, the amount of time they spend on these devices becomes a concern for parents, alongside old friends like TV and video-games. We’ve done some research and found out this tips to be the best. All families are different, so we hope you can fit one or two of the following ideas to your reality.
Set YOURSELF some limits. Are you spending enough time with your kids?
With great kids comes great responsibility. One of the main reasons children play video-games is that they are bored to play with anything else they have available and sadly many parents are actually comfortable with their kids spending a lot of time in front of a screen so they are not disturbed.
Video-games have an endless universe of content and challenges and they’re really fun, so it’s hard to compete with them, but learning something from a grown up in the real world can certainly beat that and be much more rewarding, for your children and yourself. It may be hard to find a subject of interest at first, but don’t give up and maybe even ask them: “Hey, I’m available! What would you like to do/learn/play with?”.
Bake something together, take them to a park, to the zoo, to fish, to a picnic, play a sport, play a board game, play music together, make noise, dance, tell them something about your job, tell them stories and achievements of your own life, share your hobbies with them! Let them ask questions, encourage them to ask you questions, play with water, paint with them, paint them and let them paint you, make a mess. We’ve all been kids once, don’t miss the opportunity of being there again and most important of all: teach. Parents are often so used to their lives and everything, they forget most of it is new to their children. Teach them how to tie shoelaces if you haven’t yet. Teach them how to answer the phone. Teach them about the movements of the Sun, Earth and the Moon. Teach them how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Don’t just tell them to wash their hands, tell them there are microscopic bacteria everywhere! They’ll love it. Find the subjects they like the most. You’ll be the best teachers (and friends) they’ll ever have.
Give them interesting fun alternatives.
Don’t buy all major games and devices your kids want. Invest in something else: take them to a book store and tell them to pick any book they want, look for interesting educational toys, boards games and puzzles, look for toys that will boost their creativity and imagination, like building blocks and action figures, look for toys and board games they can play with friends, buy them a basketball set, buy them a bicycle, sign them up for sports, sign them up for arts, music, dance, language classes, sign them up for the scouts. There are many alternatives out there that will make your children grow in many ways and not want to spend that much time with electronic devices. Check out what you have near your neighborhood, ask other parents what their kids are doing.
Make them have to earn it
Make rules where they have to accomplish something in exchange for what they want. Set a series of activities you want them to do: organizing the room, putting away the toys, being on time for lunch, dinner and school, sleeping at the right time, doing the homework, being respectful, etc. Then tell them what they can get for doing each one: screen time, going to a park, a dinner out somewhere, ask them what they would like to get. If you prefer, you can create a point system to make it easier to set a value for those things, making it more visual and understandable. Set up a board with their names and the amount of points they have. Make it fun, using star magnets as points for example.
We don’t recommend setting a value in points for real money, unless you are really aware of what you’re doing and the effects of that in the future. You won’t want your kids worrying about money this early. We also don’t recommend taking points off, positive reinforcement is more powerful than punishment, unless you make that very clear before. Most important of all: for this system to work, you need to be committed and comply with it as much as your children or it will lose value and fail.
You are parents. You are NOT supposed to serve your kids as many parents do these days, you’re supposed to raise them for life. Don’t get all soft-hearted just because they are a bit sad and don’t let them get used to cry to achieve that. Frustration is an important part of our lives, everybody need to learn to get over it. So, set limits and make them count. No excuses. Haven’t had lunch or dinner? No video-games. Homework not done? No video-games. Haven’t played outside for a few hours? No video-games. And crying is not gonna help.
Particularly we, “Panda: The Curious Cat” developers, care a lot about the effect our apps on children’s life and that’s why in the next months we’ll release a major update that will transform our app, making it the first of a kind to address this issue in a very creative manner. Keep in touch!
Parenting Wild Things