Smart & Simple Ways to Manage Screen Time at Home

Ever feel like your children could use some time off from the screen?

Children’s tech researcher Dr Kristy Goodwin was the guest speaker at Playgroup NSW’s 2015 AGM on the topic ‘Raising Kids in the Digital Age’. Dr Goodwin believes that by creating a balance of different activities in the playtime mix, you can easily manage screen time at home and avoid digital dependence

Whilst Dr. Goodwin highlights the importance of children spending time on their smartphones, laptops or tablets, she recommends that they also need to, “hang upside down and play in nature.”

“We actually know that time in nature provides something called the restorative theory,” explains Dr Goodwin, “so we know that brains can recalibrate when they get time to unplug.”

However, if the brain is constantly connected to technology, it causes children’s nervous system to become saturated. “Time in nature helps brains to calm down and reduce their stress levels,” says Dr Goodwin.

Why digital balance is so important

Nowadays it would be almost impossible to restrict your children from using digital tools. To them, the digital world is as natural as a tree on the side of the road.

However, as parents, we must ensure that our children don’t become dependent on technology to soothe them or calm them down when they are bored or angry.

To avoid such scenarios, Dr Goodwin recommends:

Create a calendar of activities for your children, including those activities they like most.
Put together a ‘bored box’ with toys that your kids don’t play with that often.
Crack open the DUPLO, Lego, and building blocks.

What are mum & dad doing?

Keep in mind that, at least in the early stages of their growth, children tend to mimic the behaviour of their parents and close ones. Dr Goodwin highlights, “As adults, we haven’t really stopped to think about our own digital dependence.” She therefore suggests you should evaluate your child’s use of digital devices and try to develop healthier media habits.

For example, push notifications might be interfering with our activity and we might feel compelled to see what they are. The truth is, they are not always as important as we perceive them to be.

A study conducted by the technology security company AVG found that 32% of Aussie kids wished their parents used their digital devices a lot less. So don’t think they don’t notice!

Dr Goodwin recommends parents and carers to monitor their social media activity and set schedules for checking their social accounts. She suggests setting times when to check social media, for example when the kids are at pre-school, school, or otherwise occupied.

“Forget” your phone

Do we really need to be connected to the digital world 24/7?

As Dr Goodwin points out, we actually do not. Therefore, a simple strategy is to leave your phone at home or in the glovebox of your car whenever you are going out with your kids.

As a parent, you multitask a lot. Adding phone checks to the list is really not necessary. Imagine your child asking you questions while you are trying to reply to an email, cook dinner, and run the bath simultaneously.

Dr. Goodwin proposes leaving the phone out of sight in the kitchen, so that it is not interfering with your tasks but at the same time you can hear it if something urgent comes up.

From August to October 2016, Kinderling Radio is pledging to unplug once a week to share family moments the old-fashioned way. From biking to hiking, craft to camping, tune into Kinderling Conversation for weekly tips for exploring fun and creative ways to connect as a family.


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Playgroup NSW leads play-based programs and services for NSW families with children birth to school age, offering development, shared experiences, and family support, that results in active citizens and inclusive communities.