For parents in the twenty-first century, life can feel inundated with technology. Our kids seem to be incessantly asking for access to games, apps, and videos. In fact, children under eight now spend an average of 2 ¼ hours per day in front of screens. How do we allow them to keep up with technological know-how as they grow without giving in to their requests for mindless screen time? Below, the Osceola Reads team shares some ideas for making that time educational.
Pair screen time with daily reading
If you read traditional books daily with your child, adding in a digital book can be exciting. Your little one can feel like they’re still getting screen time privileges, while you can ensure that it’s supervised time. With Footsteps2Brilliance, you have 15 libraries of books to choose from! Show your child how to navigate within the app, choosing books to be read aloud automatically or reading to your child instead. When children know that story time is also tablet time, they have something to look forward to, and will, therefore, be less likely to beg for the chance to play on an electronic device at other times during the day.
Watch your child play games and talk about them
Kids don’t just want to play on a smartphone or tablet; they want someone else to watch them do so. Perhaps you don’t love taking the time to watch your child play a game. We can relate! However, what if the game in question were about letter sounds, phonics, or rhyming? By taking a moment to watch your child play the literacy games on Footsteps2Brilliance, then talking about each letter, sound, or story, you’re sending the message that reading is exciting and that you’ll take time out of your day to pay attention to it. This interaction makes game time feel less like monotonous screen time, leaving both you and your child happy!
Don’t force it
Sometimes, when we want our children to do less of something, being too harsh about the rules can backfire. Instead of giving your child the impression that playing on a device or watching tv is the worst thing he or she could possibly choose to do, find ways to encourage certain kinds of screen time. Get excited about wanting your child to use Footsteps2Brilliance, for example. Give him or her a challenge, like: “I bet you can’t read four MegaMouth Decoders books today.” Chances are, they’ll get started right away! Your pro-technology suggestions will not only happily surprise your child, but they will lessen the overall conflict you may have over screen time.
Model good screen time practices
Perhaps the hardest part about managing a child’s screen time is managing our own! Since children watch our every move, we must be good models of how to responsibly use phones, tablets, and other devices. Taking breaks, like having your whole family observe a technology-free period of time each day, is one great way to press pause on the screen obsession. Using technology for positive things, like reading, is another excellent option.
Screen time is practically built into our lives these days, so making the best of it can be difficult. Apps like Footsteps2Brilliance, which combine fun and learning, are great resources for busy parents like you, who want to give their kids regulated and productive access to electronics.