It's summer and kids everywhere are out of school for the long break, and if they have nothing else to do, will probably be transfixed by their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Recent and ongoing studies from the National Institutes of Health have shown that more than two hours of screen time per day can have a negative effect on children's thinking and language test results. So, what should a parent do to stave off this addictive and unhealthy habit during the summer months? And how can parents become more involved in children's screen time? Here are four tips to keep your kids off their iPhones this summer.
Related: Parental Controls: How To Block Websites & Apps, Limit Screen Time on iPhone & iPad
1. Set up screen time
First, parents need look no further than Apple, which has addressed the problem of screen time features that let parents know and feel good about what kids are doing, helping them choose how, and how often, kids can use their devices. And the company is constantly designing new features to ensure that children use their devices the way their parents want them.
Starting with iOS 12, the feature gives parents access to real-time reports on how much time they and kids spend on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and to set limits on things like apps, websites, etc., so adults and Kids can make more informed decisions about how to use their iOS devices to limit their screen time.
If you haven't already, enable screen time on your iPhone or iPad, just go to screen time in the Settings app, then turn on the feature, touch Continue and select either This is my device or This is my child's device. From there, you can manage screen time settings such as downtime (only certain apps and phone calls you allow will be available), app limits (set daily app limits, such as accessing only productivity apps while at work but not having social networking games), Allow always (override any limits you set in other settings), and content and privacy restrictions (block inappropriate content, downloads, and purchases).
For a parent configuring a child's device, you can enter a password code – separate from the iPhone password – to secure the settings you have set so that only you can make changes. (Note that the Phone, Messages, FaceTime, and Maps apps are always allowed by default, but you can also limit them within the screen time settings).
2. Getting Kids to Make Time on their iPhone
Another option for parents to consider is the Goya-Move Parental Control app ($ 1.99 / month), which takes parental control a step further. The GOYA-Move app stands out from other similar apps by rewarding kids with accumulated time in front of their screen without having to physically take their phone or device away from them (or make them feel punished).
Launched in Summer 2018, the GOYA-Move app (the abbreviation for "get off your apps") is a digital health and wellness app that teaches kids about screen usage moderation and accountability. The app accomplishes this through parental controls that allow parents to set step goals and assign tasks (the latter a new feature coming soon in an app update), which encourage children to stay active and live a healthier lifestyle. When step goals and / or tasks are completed, the rewards-based app allows kids to access specific apps on their locked device (e.g. games, music, social media, or the browser). For security reasons, the app does not block access to messages or the phone, so parents can still communicate with their children and vice versa (and are especially useful in emergencies).
3. Visit the Library
Then it's the non-digital way to get kids off their screens. Instead of physically bringing an iPhone or iPad, parents can register their kids at their local library for free summer activities and programs, sign up for swim lessons and get them a pool pass, or help their older kids find age-appropriate summer jobs.
4. Model Healthy Screen Use
Of course, parents themselves are not immune to the effects of screen usage, and they can be an example for their children by downloading and using an app like SPACE – Break Phone Addiction (free). SPACE is a reward-based app for adults similar to GOYA-Move and aims to help you find the balance between phone life and breaking addiction by setting goals and paying more attention to the time you spend in front of the screen. When you install the app, you will be asked to answer any questions about your smartphone usage. Then choose a user profile that best describes you. The app will then set screen lock and hour usage targets, send notifications as the time spent in front of a screen increases, and provide rewards as performance marks when daily goals are met. What better way to model and utilize screen responsiveness by setting the example and holding yourself accountable while trying to teach kids responsible use of their own devices?
It is very important that parents work with their children to help ward off such an addictive and unhealthy habit in this modern age created by our digital devices. With some of the tips and suggestions offered in this article, you will hopefully reverse the growing trend for the whole family not only during these summer months, but also year round.
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