How to control children’s access to screens?

by Theresa Hus Content Writer for

So, you’ve just finished your ultimate home theater room and you’re ready to test the new surround sound system. Everything runs soooo smooth that you don’t want to go to bed anymore. But there’s only one more problem. Your kids like screens too. If you don’t have the maturity to power off the TV, don’t expect that from your kids. Before you raise your voice, remember that you’re also a big kid. And if you want to control your children’s access to screens, you have to know your limits first. 

With so many pixels all around us, you may wonder who had it harder - you or your parents. Parenting has never been harder. Weird ideas have never spread faster. Screens are doors that invite danger - it sneaks into the virtual world too. As online citizens, we always have to double check our privacy settings and our bank accounts, then keep an eye on our children as they surf the troubled waters of the Internet. 

How well connected to digital media are we? Very well connected, according to a Common Sense Media survey released in 2017. In 95% of households with children under 8 there is at least one smartphone, while 78% have a tablet, too. Young parents don’t want to deprive their children of all the beauty and excitement that comes in waves of gigabytes. No more than 42% of children own their own tablet. Among teens, the percentage is even higher - 98% of teenagers have access to a smartphone. Being online is crucial - half of them can be found online almost constantly. But no parent wants to know their children are adrift online. That’s why they need control and supervision. Or even better - a family media plan. 

Kids demand more and more time online or on mobile devices, and many parents don’t dare to say the magic word “No!”. However, a mere negation won’t do its job. The kid must understand why he or she is not allowed to play or watch a cartoon anymore. So, you have to find the right words to explain to your kids how time can be spent pleasantly without the help of an electronic device. It might require a little bit of creativity and some whining will be inevitable, but you are the parent and you decide how your kids should spend their time. 

Put in place a daily routine at home

Why do your kids end up spending too much time on their devices or in front of the TV? Because they don’t have a daily schedule. They get bored way too quickly and they will do anything to make the time pass. Always give your kids something to do! Move from one activity to another, from one game to another, until they lose their interest. 

One way to educate your child that screen time must have its limits is to use a screen at the same time and stop using it when you want your child to stop. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you watch no more than 1 hour of high-quality programs together with your child, explaining to him/her what it is about, trying to find the meaning and utility of the new information. Although toddlers and technology might be very good friends, they also need someone to read them stories. AAP encourages this activity, but unfortunately, only 43% of children under 2 are read to every day, according to the Common Sense Media survey.  

As kids grow up you can have “The Tech Talk” and explain to them that time can fly more quickly when they are online and most of that time is wasted instead of being used productively. 

If you work from a computer, let your children know that what you do on screen for 8 or more hours a day brings you money whereas their online surfing doesn’t pay the bills. But this doesn’t mean they can’t find a job they love and work on a PC to earn a salary in the future. Don’t demonize technology - as kids prepare for adulthood in America’s best public and private schools, they might be drawn towards high-tech companies, being responsible for the next technological advancements. If today they use Facebook, tomorrow they might work for Facebook and the like. 

Until their employees will decide how they will spend their time and use their skills, you have to be in control. If one of your kids might seem more intelligent and open-minded you might be raising a prodigy - in this case, access to technology will be vital, and you may even want to look for a tutor. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if our kids’ education will be based on electronic devices and screens in the near future. Computer literacy is a must in today’s job market! But, at home you may want to have:

  • Days or hours with no screen access

  • Rooms with no screens allowed

  • Electronic devices charged outside bedrooms

Offer alternatives to alleviate boredom at home

Children need screens to keep themselves entertained or busy. As adults, we need a screen to play addictive games that offer us rewards for simply moving something from A to B, thus boosting our dopamine levels and helping us to de-stress fast and easy. We all feel bored or stressed sometimes, but screens are not the only medicine. 

Now, with so much homework you may say that kids can’t get bored. But homework is boring and tiresome, so your kids may try to cheat. Instead of putting a screen in their hands, ask them to help you cook dinner, play a board game together, go to the grocery store together, prepare a hand-made gift for someone, plant some seeds and plants in your organic garden, or make some physical exercises. 

Even if you don’t have a daily schedule, you should never fall short of ideas. Write down a list of “emergency activities” for kids and always plan the way you are going to spend the weekend as a family. There are so many fun things to do on weekends other than looking at a screen! Go shopping! Go on a mountain trail for a walk! There is so much life beyond the tiny screens we hold in our hands! 

The effects of technology on youth

Technology has good and bad sides. The main negative aspect is the fact that screens keep us in place. And when we stay put, we don’t burn calories. The effects of technology on youth are obvious: according to the CDC, more than 20% of children under 19-years-old are obese. The lack of physical activity lays at the root of other health problems. Sedentarism is often paired with a poor diet that doesn’t provide all the necessary nutrients. Dietary imbalances weaken the immune system. On top of that, since most of the time is spent indoors, not exposing the skin to sunlight is also weakening the bones. 

Other negative facets of technology:

  • Exposure to violent content or inappropriate content

  • Increased bullying on social media

  • Disconnecting with family and the tendency to avoid face-to-face interactions

  • Emphasizes good looks over other abilities, values or virtues

  • It’s addictive

  • It’s harmful to the eyes

Among the positive aspects that technology brings in the lives of youth:

  • The possibility to stay connected with friends and other family members

  • Easy access to information and educational resources

  • Allows children to be more independent and make decisions with regard to what they want to see

Access to screens as a prize 

We could say that technology is for kids what money is for adults - there is an insatiable appetite for both. So, you may use screen time as a currency. Your kids must complete different tasks to get their hands on their favorite devices or remote controls. Ask them to help you with house chores or to finish their homework on time. In this way, you prepare them for adulthood, when you always have to work for your money. 

Teaching your kids from an early age that money doesn’t grow on trees is extremely important. They have to understand how the economy works. When they grow up, you may even allow them to choose between money or screen time as you may want to help them understand how wealth is built. You can’t pay off a mortgage playing games or giving “Likes” on Facebook, or can you? So a very important lesson will be to teach them how to save money for a downpayment. Of course, you will start with smaller things they crave for, like the latest iPhone or PlayStation. You can get as creative as you want with this idea.

Use parental control apps

Since the invention of electricity, technology has been constantly expanding and taking all of us by surprise. How far is it going to get? The sky is the limit. The humankind will continue to innovate, trying desperately to make life easier. But the more we struggle to simplify, the more complex our lives become, don’t you think? Raising a well-rounded child will be difficult without parental control apps and screen control apps. When our kids will get the job of their dream, we will reap off all the benefits of limiting screen time. For example, the new iOS 12 comes with a Screen Time section in the Settings app where you can see how much time you spend on-screen and what apps you use most often. Then, you can set time limits for each app. Screen Time will even tell you how often you pick up your device. For example, 22% of teenagers check their social media more than 10 times a day, according to GuardChild. Moreover, 20% of kids believe their parents have no idea about their online activity. 

If you’re not currently using a parental control app, it’s time to install one. Some of the best rated parental control apps for Android are:

  • FamiSafe Kid Control App

  • Kaspersky Safe Kids

  • Net Nanny

  • Spyzie Parental Control App

  • Family Time app

Although Google’s Android operating system dominates the market, Apple comes second, with a market share of 44.3% - about 90 million iPhones. Some of the above apps have versions for Apple’s operating systems too, but besides these, you might want to look at: 

  • Qustodio

  • OurPact

  • PhoneSheriff iPhone Monitoring

  • Netsanity

  • Mobicip

There is not enough paper in the world to print all the codes that have been written so far. We are surrounded by the fruits of programming languages wherever we turn our heads. We have smart home devices, smart cars, smart phones - everything seems to be “smart” and even smarter than we are. Screens will continue to fascinate our kids and the kids within us for many years. And as we get older, it is not the amount of time we spend on screens that matters, but what we do in that time. Screens are already becoming the new cash registers. Let’s use them wisely!

To create your first family media plan visit this website:

Sponsor Ads

About Theresa Hus Innovator   Content Writer for

20 connections, 0 recommendations, 67 honor points.
Joined APSense since, May 16th, 2019, From Hollywoof FL, US, United States.

Created on Oct 7th 2019 12:50. Viewed 1,757 times.


No comment, be the first to comment.
Please sign in before you comment.