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Find out how to limit screen time using Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools for a happier, more well-balanced family.
This post was sponsored by Google in partnership with the Forward Influence Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #DigitalWellbeing #ad
Table of contents
- Digital Wellbeing Family Guide
- American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations:
- Internet Safety
- How to Limit Screen Time Using Family Link
- How to Limit Screen Time
There are have been a lot of changes for us this Fall, especially now that Ethan is middle school! One of them has been adding a new Chromebook that’s dedicated to our son for school. It’s taking us a little while to settle into our new normal routine, including how we manage screen time.
Deciding when and how to use devices is just as important as how long your children use it. For example, this year our son uses a Chromebook for school. His sixth grade teachers utilize Google Classroom for online learning, managing homework assignments and projects.
Google believes that technology should play a helpful role in our lives and our family’s lives and recognizes that this isn’t always the case—for example, parents are struggling to manage screen time with their kids.
That is why they’ve created digital wellbeing tools that help my family minimize distractions during the day, and unplug more easily when we want to which can be found at wellbeing.google.
Kind of heavy stuff, right? I mean, parenting is no picnic – and every family is different. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about screen time and Internet Safety for Kids. It’s an important topic, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Google is a helpful partner in this journey. I feel empowered to create healthy digital habits for both myself and my family.
Digital Wellbeing Family Guide
Google’s digital wellbeing Family Guide helps parents assess and make decisions specific to their family, such as:
- Finding positive content
- Determining when your kids are ready for a device
- Using social media meaningfully and responsibly
- Making gaming a positive experience
- Balancing offline and online activities
It’s easy to get started, use the Self Reflection Tool to see what role technology plays in your life. Then, you can learn more about minimizing distractions, improving focus, unpluging more often, or helping your family create healthy habits
American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
- Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
It is also important to note that using a tablet, phone or watching TV before bed can interfere with a child’s sleep. Our own pediatrician recommends no screen time 1 hour before bed, which is something we try to follow on school nights especially.
Be Internet Awesome and learn how to teach your kids about Internet Safety.
How to Limit Screen Time Using Family Link
When we set up the device, we used Family Link, which is fantastic to manage Chromebooks running Chrome OS version 71 or higher and Android devices running 5.1 or higher.
With the Family Link app, we can choose which apps from Google Play he can use and manage permissions within an app. I love that it flags inappropriate content and has lots of options for parenting controls.
After the first few days at school, we realized Ethan was playing games on his Chromebook in study hall, instead of working on his math homework. We sat down with him and explained that the Chromebook is a tool, and that by playing games in study hall, he’s losing time at home where he could be playing LEGOs or Minecraft. Guess what? He started doing his math homework in study hall!
Ethan made a responsible choice – this time. I imagine there may be times when he thinks he can get away with games in study hall, which is why we have denied his request to download Minecraft on his Chromebook and blocked a website with online games.
Once his homework is done, we allow him to have screen time. Ethan can use his Kindle to play games like Minecraft.
How to Limit Screen Time
Here are some tips that will help you limit your child’s screen time without starting a battle with your kids:
Model responsible screen time
This is a tough one, but might be the most important of all. Kids learn more by what they see than what we tell them.
Mr. Juggling Act and I, like many parents, struggle with this. My business is online, obviously, and he is on-call all the time as he is in the tech industry related to security.
The key is to be more aware of your own habits, so that you can set a good example for your kiddos. If you feel like you spend too much time checking Facebook or your email, don’t try to quit cold turkey. Instead, make minor changes in your daily routine a little at time until you are happy with your online consumption.
Set aside times that are technology free
Meal time is a great example, unplug and connect with your family. So often we’re running from one thing to the next all day long.
You can pause your Google Wifi – a great tool to use for dinner time.
When we’re eating meals, devices are off the table – literally!
We also have a no tech at the field rule. When we go to soccer practice or a game, we are there to support the kids. We allow both our son and daughter to bring a book if they don’t feel like watching a game, but we’ve put our foot down on electronics.
Understand your devices and use parental controls
This is so important because the Internet is full of things that kids shouldn’t have access to at all. I know I said it before, but the Family Link tool is so great for families because of all the great parental controls you can choose from to customize your family’s digital consumption.
Encourage other activities to balance out screen time.
Our kids are having a particularly busy Fall this year, and I love it! I spend a tremendous amount of time in the car, but the kids are loving soccer and horseback riding lessons.
It has been awesome to see them spending so much time with these activities. It also means they’re not “bored” and looking to fill their day with screen time.
We also love family game night. Tech is turned off and we engage as a family with our favorite educational board games for kids.
Set technology free zones
In our home, we do not allow the kids to have their Kindles in their bedrooms. It makes it too difficult to monitor.
It is also a huge temptation for the kids to play ‘just one more game’ rather than going to bed.
To discover more tips and tools, visit wellbeing.google to find a balance with technology that feels right for the whole family.
Google also offers helpful resources, such as the Family Conversation Guide, expert advice and video content, and a self-reflection tool that serves personalized tips and tools for your unique digital wellbeing goals.