We’ve all done it before. We’ve blocked an app or two on our children’s phones. Based on my own experience as a parent, however, this method of protection may not be all that useful.
Block the urge to block apps.
“Why?” you might ask? Well, as a parent myself, I’ve seen how effective the block apps feature can go. Our children are growing up digital. When we try to use technology to curb their screen time or digital habits, they can naturally use technology to side step these limitations. They’ve got as many ways to navigate the digital realm as we do (and maybe even more)!
So when I tried to block the YouTube app from my 10-year old’s phone (because it posed as a huge distraction), he somehow managed to remove the blocking feature. When confronted on how he did it, he replied nonchalantly, “I Google-d it”. Well, they weren’t kidding when you said you can find all the answers on Google.
I stopped blocking apps from then on. Here’s what I did instead:
1. I created a conversation
Ask your child why he/she needs to use the phone. Is it for entertainment? Is it for information? There’s always a reason why he/she wants to grab the phone. Sometimes, it’s just for mindless scrolling through social media. Through these conversations, ask your child how long he/she intends to spend on the phone. After all, we all need at least some entertainment and we need to relieve ourselves of stress.
Talk to your child about internet safety and healthy device use too. It’s necessary for your child to understand why you’re blocking apps for their own protection, and not because you’re trying to control every aspect of his/her life. After your child understands your rationale, they might be more cautious of their behaviour on the internet.
2. Taught him about limits
Too much of a good thing can be bad. While our devices can be used for entertainment purposes, it’s also important not to lose track of time on the internet. We all know how it goes – we tell ourselves it’s just one episode of our favourite show on Netflix, but before you know it, we’ve smashed through a whole season. It’s no different for our children, so we shouldn’t hold it against them. We can, however, tell them that it’s responsible to heed our own limits.
If we tell ourselves one episode, we need to be disciplined to stick to just one episode. If junior needs a little push, the plano app helps to set limits on your child’s screen time. As a parent, you can schedule device-free timings to keep the phone away during specific time intervals. So if your child tells you he/she wants to watch one 30-min episode of his/her favourite cartoon, you can schedule a “no-device” time frame after the episode is over.
3. Planned family outings
I taught my child that there’s fun beyond his screens. In today’s digital age, our children find fun through a tiny little digital shop called the App Store (or the Play Store). Every time my son whines that he’s bored, I take him out for a short family outing to the playground. With so much time spent on their devices every day, keeping the phone away and basking in the sun helps to give your child’s eyes a break too. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors helps to prevent myopia from progressing.When our children exposed to the unlimited fun the outdoors presents them, it helps them realise that their phones aren’t the only source of entertainment.
As parents, bringing them outdoors also presents us with the opportunity to bond with our children. Talk to them about the sights and sounds that they notice or play with them in the sun – run, jump, get all sweaty with them. Join in the fun! The plano Shop has a variety of device-free activities and outdoor adventures that your child can engage in!