Here are some things Jon and I do to help our children access the internet and other technologies wisely:
1) The phone box – we have a clear plastic box in our kitchen where our children’s phones live. (We bought ours at John Lewis for £16) They are visible at all times. Each phone is the same, but has a coloured sticker on so we know whose is there. We place the phones there whilst our kids are at home. We have a rule that no-one will answer their phone or text at meal times, unless it is super urgent.
2) Screen free days/weeks – Once every few months, we go screen free with our kids. We have a sign on the TV to remind us, and we don’t use the Telly, the Nintendo, or laptops (other than for work/homework.) Our family finds this challenging because we are totally normal! But we love playing games together and reconnecting with our hobbies. We also find that we connect more deeply with one another during times of screen-free fun.
3) Model different uses of screen time – We try and help our kids use their screens to worship and read their Bibles. There are some great Bible apps out there for them. New songs come out all the time that they enjoy hearing and singing along to. We also all enjoy watching DudePerfect videos on Youtube. Dude Perfect specialise in sports trick shots. They are all Christians and have a really healthy sense of fun.
4) Timelimits – I use the oven timer to help my kids share screens and know when they have had enough. The Nintendo switch has parental time controls on it too which can be accessed from the parent’s mobile phone.
5) Outside time – We try and help the kids get outside activity time each day so that they aren’t just glued to some little screen somewhere. All the kids enjoy games and sports outside.
6) Reading time – Before the kids are allowed to watch TV at night (our TV is only allowed on after tea on a week day) they often sit and read a book for 20 minutes.
7) Be present – Try and stay in the same environment as your children when they are accessing the internet so that you are aware of what they are watching/doing.
8) Permission to play – Make sure that your children know that they need to ASK before using technology of any kind in your home. You are in charge of their screen use. You can’t blame them for overuse if you haven’t set up boundaries for them.