If you're like many other parents, you might feel as though regulating your child's screen time is a constant battle. It can sometimes be a challenge to get them away from their electronic devices, and over to something more analog like reading and writing. And it's no surprise to us as parents; Our own phones, tablets and computers are constantly dinging, buzzing and competing for our attention. We're in a technology-dependent society and screen time can be part of a healthy lifestyle for anyone, when it’s balanced. But if you have a little one who is just starting their reading journey or you feel that your child could benefit from less screen time and more reading, this post is for you!
This one simple trick is guaranteed to help you solve the ultimate screen-time battle with your child once and for all, while also encouraging a love for reading. The best part is, this method will create a snowball effect. Your child's reading ability will improve, further fueling their love for it, all the while increasing their reading level in the process.
Step 1: Stock Up on Books! - Visit your local library and have your child pick out several books that look interesting to them. It helps if the books are part of a series that your new reader is likely to identify with or really get into.
Step 2: Time Spent Reading/Writing is the Currency - It's simple: However much time your child spends reading or even journaling, that is how much time they have to "spend" on their screens. If they want an hour to play Fortnite, they have to read or write in their journal for an hour. Not only does this help balance their playing or watching time, it empowers the child to have control over their screen time. So no longer will they have to wonder "oh, will Mom let me play my game today after school?" or "What mood will Dad be in when I ask him if I can use my iPad?" As long as they have time they have earned from reading or writing, they can play or watch whatever they want!
Step 3: Set Limits - Some families choose to let their child "rack up" time reading throughout the week so that they can use it for screen time on the weekends. Others might find that they need to allow their child to have some screen time throughout the weekdays. This method is flexible and will work well however you decide to utilize it. A reasonable amount of allotted screen time per day is 1-3 hours. Of course all families and children are different. You know your child best. The important component here is setting limits and sticking to them.
We recommend grabbing a cheap pocket timer and a small note pad your child can use to keep track of both their earned and used time. The timer can be used to time how long they've read, and then switched to "countdown" mode to notify them when their earned screen time has ended. This puts the responsibility into your child's hands and will likely cut down on any squabbles or disagreements about their screen time. Keeping track of their own time will also teach them valuable time management skills, and even some budgeting skills as well!
Give this method a try and let us know what you think. We guarantee this will help them level-up on their reading!
*If you are concerned about your child’s screen time, you may need to talk to your pediatrician or family physician. If problems persist, ask for a referral to a qualified mental health professional.*