Ways To Limit Internet Time Without Causing A Child Meltdown

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Screen time is a staple in the lives of millions of children around the world. With the advent of the internet and cellphone, as well as all of the wonderfully entertaining, and educational, applications that have accompanied them, our children have become increasingly detached from person-to-person social interactions, and overwhelmingly attached to their devices. It can be extremely difficult to “cut the cord” on devices when your child has become attached to the continuous stimulation that they provide. However, for your child’s well-being, creating space between your little one and their devices is an absolute necessity. The question then becomes, how can you do this with minimal fallout and anxiety for your child?

Try these approaches to limiting your child’s internet time without causing serious meltdowns:

  1. Set very clear parameters around internet use in the very beginning. Many parents make the mistake of just letting their child have free reign over their device use and internet time. This is a major mistake because it does not create a developmentally conducive environment for a child. Children need to understand limits and, as a result, they learn to respect those limits. So, set time constraints early on and your child will be less likely to act out when their time is up.

  2. Provide an alternative activity. We can all remember what childhood was like before the advent of technological “toys”. Introduce your child to a myriad of activities that could prove just as enjoyable as simply watching a video or chasing virtual cars. From games to books to basic toys, there is plenty for a growing child to do besides sitting in front of a screen.

  3. Interact with your child instead of using your devices. Your child needs to see that you have also set personal limits on your own screen time. You are the example that your child will follow. One thing that can never be replaced is authentic interaction with your child. Feeling your hands as you play together or listening to your voice will be something that your child could grow to love. When screen time is over, your child can look forward to something that they may love even more, being with their parent. Those positive moments that your child can look forward to could lessen their emotional attachment to the internet and other electronics.

  4. Be consistent and firm when you tell your child that their internet time is over. Explain to your child that their next “internet time” will be decreased if they act out when their session is over. Your child will want to preserve the time that they are allowed. Conversely, if they end their time with maturity and without a fight, commend them for that, and offer another form of positive reinforcement such as an extra bedtime story or add more playtime to their outdoor activities.

  5. Encourage your child to practice self-control. In doing that, he or she will be better equipped to able to handle situations that they may not necessarily like or agree with. This is key when transitioning from one part of their day to the next.

  6. Make screen time a privilege instead of a daily definitive. By doing this, your child will be encouraged to find other ways to stay occupied on their own. This will also encourage your child to use their imaginations more and to be more socially engaged with the other members of your family. Let your child earn their internet time, keep those times very limited, and you could see less reliance on it .In turn, they could become less attached to it. This may make stepping away a smoother, less emotionally charged transition.

The internet and electronic devices are a part of our lives, and they will not go away. But, as parents, we have to help our children to navigate their proper use while continuing to foster healthy social behaviors. Your little one should learn to keep internet use in its proper perspective. Melting down over it is not an appropriate response. In time, the hope is that your child will recognize and understand the limitations that you set with the internet, as well as with the other aspects in their lives. In time, they will learn to respect those limits, and the impact should be healthier personal growth.

 

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