How to limit screen time for children

  1. Boys glued to TVBe a positive role-model. How much time do you spend squinting at a screen? Does the screen rule your time, or do you rule the screen? Do you sit watching nonsense or idling on the internet (what!!? as if...) or are you focused about what you're watching on the telly or doing on the computer?
  2. Be active yourself, and encourage everyone in the family to be active. Go swimming, ride bikes, go walking as a family. Look for things to do together that don't involve being huddled round a screen.
  3. Talk about why too much time in front of a screen can be a bad thing. Talk about how most things are OK, but in moderation.
  4. Decide whether you want to have a screen-time limit (some Mumsnetters say it's a good idea; others think children need to work out for themselves that they can't sit in front of a screen all day). If you go for a limit, make everyone very clear about what you're doing and why - and enforce it properly.
  5. Keep to your own rules! Two hours screen time for them - two hours screen time for you.
  6. Keep a family screen time diary for a week. Talk together about what it reveals about your family and individual screen habits.
  7. Be very careful before you agree to a child having a screen in their bedroom. Many Mumsnetters (and experts) say they'd never allow it. Some who have allowed it, regret it later.
  8. Turn off the TV during family meals. Have a rule about no mobiles at the table - for anyone, parents included.
  9. Don't use 'no TV' or 'no computer' as a reward a punishment - that will make screen time even more important and precious.
  10. Talk to your pre-teen about what they are watching on the TV or computer. Talk about why adverts exist, and about how they're designed to make you think a particular thing is special or important. Help your child to understand commercial pressures because that will make him or her more screen-savvy.

What Mumsnetters say about screen time rules for children

  • My son is 10 and is addicted to his Xbox. We've restricted use to two hours on a school night, and I insist he also reads for a minimum of 15 minutes per night. At weekends, he gets a bit more freedom, but if he gets too noisy or angry he has to come straight off. kid
  • I find that the only time I really need to limit screen time is in the school holidays, when they would spend hours every day in front of the TV, computer or their DS if allowed. I allow them one or two hours in the holidays and try to find other things to do, in and out of the house. elfiro
  • I play it by ear: how tired, how busy, what's the weather like, what mood is he in? Why do you need a rule? PitysSake
  • I have been a teacher in a secondary school for over a decade - and I can tell you that a good proportion of my brightest (male) pupils are gamers. There is a great deal of problem-solving and concentration required of gaming, which is ignored. dubbletrubble


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Last updated: over 1 year ago