Sensible rules for your child’s media consumption
Whether you need to control your child’s media use depends on how often your child uses the media that are accessible. Some children are intrinsically more inclined to be more physically active and prefer doing sports or pursue a creative hobby while others get much more involved in media activities. Every child has a different character and different interests. Therefore, you should always observe the media consumption of your child very carefully and evaluate how often your child uses media and for what purpose. Informative content or creative use of media (photography, online drawing/design etc.) have more educational value than entertainment-oriented series or websites.
If you feel that your child needs rules for using the media available, we recommend that you set up these screen time guidelines together with your child. This way you can create a comprehensible framework of why media rules are important to follow and allow a certain level of participation in the decision-making process. If you see any potential conflict in how the screen time rules are set up discuss this openly with your child. Also consider the point of view of your child and ask about his or her feelings and wishes. Decide together what consequences your child can expect if certain rules are not observed.
However, allow for a certain level of flexibility when setting up rules for media consumption. On a rainy day, your child could be allowed to watch TV a little longer or play a video game. In exchange, there could be a media break the following day. Generally, try to determine media-free days to allow plenty of time for other activities away from media.
It is easiest to implement your media rules by introducing a structured everyday routine. A fixed schedule and rituals give your child a reliable framework that allows good judgement of how long media is used every day. In this context, we suggest the following routines:
- turn off screen media 1-2 hours before bedtime
- no smartphones at the dining table or during homework
- put smartphones elsewhere prior to going to bed
- set up media-free days and times
- plan a fixed media use schedule for your child