Tips to help parents restrict screen time for children

this guest post is brought to you by Jeff Elrod from Family Sport Health

Parents sometimes turn to electronic devices, such as, handheld video games, tablets, smartphones or televisions to soothe and entertain children. Although these devices are great to entertain little ones when you are on the phone, cleaning the house or waiting in line at the grocery store, you should limit the amount of screen time your children gets.

Research has shown that too much time spent watching television shows, surfing the web and playing videos games can cause language delays, obesity, sleep issues and trouble in school. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises limiting screen time to no more than an hour or two each day

Developing a Screen Time Allowance Plan

One of the best ways to limit screen time without a fuss is to talk with your children first. Ask your children which show they like the best. Then set a schedule. If your child likes more programs than the allotted time allows, your children must choose the shows they want to watch. The one to two hour time limit should also include all other electronic devices, including video games, mobile devices and tablets.

Observe How Television Impacts Your Child's Behavior

Too much time spent playing video games and watching television can cause your child to become impatient, irritable, selfish and aggressive. When you notice how electronic devices impact your child's behavior, you will be less inclined to allow your child extra time in front of the television. If your child becomes unruly, limit their time even further until their behavior improves.

Set an Example for Your Children

Children do what they see their parents doing. If you are spending time sitting in front of the television or computer, your child will want to do the same thing. Likewise, if they see you reading a book, cleaning the house or enjoying hobbies, they will want to follow in your footsteps.

Remember You Are the Parent

Parents must make tough decisions concerning their children. These decisions may upset your children, however, you must remember that it is your job to limit unhealthy behaviors and encourage the good ones. When you make a decision that affects your child, explain why you have made the decision and remain constant. Do not sway once the decision has been made. Your child needs and wants a parent who is stable. Showing them how important it is to keep your word will help them throughout their childhood and adult life.

Encourage Your Child to Enjoy Other Activities

Children should have a variety of things to keep them busy, such as books, art, sports and board games. Preschoolers and elementary aged children learn through playing. Spend time with them doing activities that they will enjoy. Who doesn't love dress up time?

Outings Are Great

Get your child out and learning by visiting local parks, museums and science centers. Teach your child the importance of volunteer work by participating in efforts such as feeding the homeless. Go on an adventure with your child. Take a city bus or train and explore the city. Exploration with your child offers your child a way to safely explore the world around them.

Spend Time Playing with Your Kids

Children love it when you get down on the floor and play with them. Even as your children get older, they will look back on these memories and cherish them as much as you will.

Talk To Your Children

Successful parenting requires commitment from you. Make it a point to listen to your children and talk with them. Many parents fail to realize the importance of listening and talking with their children.

Family Meal Times

Approximately two-thirds of young people report that the television is on during mealtime. Mealtime is the perfect time to spend time as a family. Oftentimes, some of the best conversations will take place when sharing meals. Make it a point eat dinner together each night.

Televisions Are Not Meant for Bedrooms

Studies have shown that the blue light from electronics can disrupt sleeping patterns. Furthermore, using the bedroom only for sleeping helps signal to the body that it is time to go to sleep. Keep the television in the family room.

Limiting the amount of time spent in front of electronics can seem overwhelming at first. Use these tips listed to help you get off on the right foot. As time goes on, it well become easier and you will wonder how you ever allowed an electronic device to control you or your children's life.

featured photo by Alec Couros, via Flickr

About the author…Jeff Elrod loves everything about family, sports and health and has developed a website to help families focus on staying active together. To learn more, visit Family Sport Health.