c_icon b_icon si_icon a_icon piao_icon loud_icon message_icon exclamation_mark_icon
The CURIOOKids Malaysia Blog
a_icon b_icon c_icon
The CURIOOKids Malaysia Blog

Managing Kid's Screen Time is a Good Idea

By CURIOOkids Global CEO Paul Blackstone

Give your children a voice in your family media plan.

The amount of time children spend interacting and playing on the various screens they have access to is a big topic of conversation in most households, particularly during COVID when education is partly or completely delivered online.

To manage or control screen time for children, all parents have their own opinions, observations and theories on the disadvantages or benefits of various amounts of screen time. Parenting has many challenges but one thing is certain, technology is here to stay and it will play a bigger part in our children’s lives that it probably does in ours given the incredible pace of technological change taking place around us.

Our objective is to create a mindset in our children where they are not only user or consumers of media on tech devices but we develop their ability to control the devices to their benefit – education, creation, collaboration and communication .

For young children, it is critically important to manage their screen time and enrich their lives with family time and self-mastery, discussions around technology and media can support this process.

It is clear that the challenges of screen time overuse can cause strained relationships within families especially as the children enter their pre-teen years. But this needs to be balanced with the fact that technology has positive benefits too. Since every child and family is different, managing screen time calls for collaborative family decision-making.

Parents of young children need to prepare themselves for the challenges of managing the screen time as their child goes through adolescence and teens. It is a myth to think that parents can or should manage their kids' screen time through authoritarian restrictions, even during Primary school. Our objective must be to educate our children on the habits and behaviours that promote the healthy and constructive use of technology, rather than the passive and potentially, destructive use.

From a young age, the way to develop these positive habits is to involve children in decisions that govern screen time. When children are left out of those decisions, they often become less communicative with parents and siblings. This is the opposite of what parents want to achieve.

Raising children to become healthy, resilient, and well-informed teens and then adults, means facilitating ways for them to learn how to manage their own screen time based on self-awareness. From an early age, children are quite capable of understanding that a good life involves awareness and balance. Just as they learn right from wrong, and good from bad, they can also learn to use technology in healthy ways.

Learning how to regulate yourself and develop healthy behaviors is one of the primary tasks of childhood and adolescence. What happens when an adult tries to regulate a child is that child misses out on the opportunity to learn for themselves. Imposed restrictions can also make children feel angry and helpless, leading to lower levels of self-confidence.

To be clear, we are not suggesting that there should be no restrictions on screen time, this is not what happens in our house, we have agreed rules and limits. What the research shows is that parents should be encouraged to look at managing screen time from a developmental process - one that gives a voice to the child and involves them in the planning and decision-making process.

Create a Family Media Plan

Every family needs a family media plan - an agreement between family members that considers the health, education, and entertainment needs of each child and the whole family. It should be a “living document,” meaning it changes and grows as required by shifting needs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is a great place to start as you think about what your plan might include. Access their media planning tools and use them to become informed. You may also want to look at simpler approaches, including psychotherapist Sean Grover's (see below) for a family screen time contract.

Hold family meetings to talk about media and discuss what you all agree to be healthy for your family. Invite each family member to share their thoughts and feelings about various types of media and what they believe would be a healthy balance. Parents need to be invested too. Healthy rules for kids, especially screen time and use of devices during family time, should be modeled by parents as well.

Make this activity fun and informative for your family and assure children that they will have a voice in creating a plan that everyone can live with. They may not like all aspects of the final product, but they should understand how each decision was made and how each member of the family will be held accountable for the plan. Consider this process educational for the whole family.