The unhealthy amount of time kids spend using their mobile phones is a problem that’s begun to show up in nearly every household. Parents all over the world face an uphill climb when the time comes to wean their kids off mobile phones and other devices.

One reason kids stay glued to mobile screens is that, far too often, they are given unfettered access. Over the years, mobile phones somehow replaced toys. Parents often use these devices as an incentive to reward completely unrelated good behavior. Sadly, some even use phones as electronic babysitters … and then express surprise when kids resist handing them over.

Modifying entrenched phone behavior is not nearly as simple as turning off the TV. It takes wisdom to navigate between allowing kids to stay in touch with their friends and still engage in other healthy, offline activities. Change typically won’t happen overnight.

Start by developing a phased-in strategy for approaching the problem and plan to be patient. You won’t fix everything with one conversation, but listed below are eight tips for managing your process — and yourself — as you dive in.

Prevent Your Kids From Spending Too Much Time on Their Phones

1. Explain your concerns using age-appropriate language

It may seem obvious to you, but kids are unlikely to see excessive phone use as a problem. Instead of forcibly taking the phone away, start off with a slightly more nuanced approach.

Talk with your kids about some of the potential downsides of always being on the phone. Explain — in age-appropriate terms — how mobile phones have been shown to affect the human mind, physical health, schoolwork, and social skills. Use non-condemning language and the right tone to get your message across. Do whatever you can to keep the defenses down as you chat.

2. Start younger children off with a phone for kids

If your child’s phone does not have internet access or multiplayer games, it’s less likely they will spend endless hours using it. Nowadays, there are phones for kids specifically designed with safety features and none of the smartphone enticements that are so habit-forming.

Phones designed with younger children in mind typically enable them to stay in touch with you and their friends but offer greater levels of parental control. Many feature games that are fun, even educational, but all designed for solo use. An age-appropriate device gives kids the experience of owning a phone without the downsides associated with smartphones.

3. Share the importance of setting time limits

Explain to your child that being glued to any device can cause them to lose all sense of time. This is especially true when they play interactive games or watch internet serial programs that use a hook such as cliffhanger endings.

Discuss the benefits of limited use of mobile phones. Stress the importance of spending time with family and friends. Avoid being heavy-handed with parental control apps that provide control over phone usage. Explain in clear terms that phones are a privilege, not a right. Devices can be taken away if clear guidelines are not followed.

4. Prepare a measured response to phone-related incidents in advance

When problems arise — and they will — don’t immediately stampede toward harsh measures. Doing so typically fuels arguments and resentment. Your first step instead could be to patiently explain again the downsides of the incessant use of mobile phones.

The next step might be to review existing time limits and assess whether change is needed. If you find this softer approach does not deliver the desired results, take the next step of enforcing time limits via parental controls. Be quick to praise compliance and good behavior. Hopefully, your affirmations easily outweigh your rebukes.

5. Arrange phone-free family time

Every week, make an effort to schedule and plan fun, inclusive family time, such as weekend get-togethers or mid-week activities. Make it clear to everyone that sitting around a campfire staring at a glowing blue screen is not what you have in mind.

When you have fun together as a family, younger kids are typically quick to get engrossed in the activities. They are far more likely to forget about devices and online games when they’re having a blast doing something else. Over time, they’ll develop more healthy habits, and you’ll worry less about them occasionally chilling out with their mobile device.

6. Help your kids discover what really makes them tick

Every kid in the world has things he or she enjoys apart from interacting with a mobile phone. It might be outdoor activities such as football, basketball, cycling, or hiking. It could even be simply walking around the neighborhood or exploring nature and their surroundings.

Pay attention to the things — other than phone use — that your child is doing whenever they lose track of time. These moments provide a strong clue to what floats their boat. When you see your kid hibernating with a phone, urge them to pursue their favorite activity. Better yet, show your support for better choices to help motivate them.

7. Make reading books a priority for everyone … including you

Reading books is one of those perennial activities where kids are most likely to lose themselves in a world of imagination and fun. Most kids start out loving to read books. All too often, they unintentionally get weaned away from reading when they receive their first mobile phone.

Make sure you multiply opportunities for reading by providing a steady supply of books on topics they find interesting. This might be dinosaurs, superheroes, or mythology — whatever grabs their attention. Good books can keep children engrossed for endless hours and thus automatically reduce screen time. Encourage the behavior by making sure they regularly “catch you” reading books, too.

8. Set the standard

Kids tend to copy what they see adults doing. Sadly, technology addiction and over-dependence on connectivity is not just a problem for teenagers. More often than not, parents set the example and act as the standard for the behavior of younger children.

Your kids will watch you and follow your lead. You can make your child use technology responsibly by setting a good example. Refrain from checking your phone frequently. Don’t spend endless hours browsing. You will inspire your kids to do the same. They will hear what you say, but believe what you do.

Prevent Your Kids From Spending Too Much Time on Their Phones

Is it time for more words … or action?

Technology addiction can be a serious thing, even more so when it affects small kids and teens. If your child exhibits concerning behavior with technology, act swiftly. Avoid drastic responses, such as taking the phone away entirely, but don’t hesitate to enforce agreed-to limits.

However, you choose to respond, make sure your child knows you are advocating for their best interests. Walk alongside your child so that they develop the tech-moderation skills they need to lead a healthy, balanced life.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments