Advice from Three High Tech Dads

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Sunday, November 24th, 2013

by TabTale

TabTale was started by three dads who saw a need for creative educationally enhanced games for kids. These dads know that although playing apps is great fun, parents sometimes struggle when they try to regulate tablet use. Here the TabTale dads share a few tips for regulating tablet playtime they have found useful in their own families and that you may also find helpful!

1. Set real limitations right from the beginning.

Set rules and limitations ahead of time, when a child is first introduced to playing with a tablet, by engaging a child —don’t wait until kids are completely absorbed while playing.

For a very young child that might just be stating the where and when they might use the tablet.

Do this even for very young children-- who understand so much more of what’s being said to them, than what they are able to say back at their young ages.

For a 2-3 year old you might just tell them what you’re going to do, not in a punitive way, but in a fun way: “Isn’t this fun?! This is the game we’re going to play and this is when we’re going to do it.”

For an older child who is of school age, engage them in the process of making the rules:

“How long do you think you should be able to play on your tablet?”

Then as the parent, express how long you think it should be.

Then ask, “How do we make this work for the both of us?”

Don’t stop until you can both agree.

That’s real problem solving with your children. When a child is engaged in the process, they are much more co-operative with the rules and limit than when parents dictate them.

2. Reinforce by writing the rules down and post them!

(And have them sign)

Then if there is a problem, you can just point to the rule.

It will be clear and logical to the child.

This avoids even getting into the argumentative stage, because you’ve prepared.

3. Punishment Taking a tablet away from a kid and using that as a threat, is very detrimental. (Using the tablet as a reward is also detrimental.) Taking the tablet away as a punishment will feel unfair and infuriate kids. It will only make them want it more. They will think, “OH, it can be taken away at any time so I better get on it as much as I can.” Punishment may stop the unwanted behavior for a short time only, but never teaches self-regulation. Punishment teaches children to avoid being caught.

4. Know Your Child Certain kids are capable of regulating themselves.

When you’ve got a really well rounded kid, you can leave the amount of screen time up to them. Otherwise, begin early with agreed on rules and loosen the rules as they get older to see how self-regulated they are. It’s easier to eliminate rules than establish new rules after kids are already playing. If they cannot self-regulate, stick with the rules, re-evaluating them as the child gets older.