Back to School Tips: Controlling Kids’ Screen Time for Proper Sleep

A young boy using a laptop - Internet addiction disorder

Getting kids in back to school mode is not easy. Going from hours of leisure to hours of study is a hard transition, even for adults. Making sure your kids are getting enough sleep when they are going back to school might start with something every parent I know struggles with… controlling screen time.

Our experience struggling with a teenager and the time spent on the iPad has not been the best one. It’s incredibly hard to regulate the time spent on these devices. They are playing games, texting with friends, watching YouTube videos for hours on end, you name it. Whatever it is they are doing, it’s incredibly hard to get them to stop. When they are completely immersed in their electronic devices, it pretty much always causes an argument when it comes time to turn them off.

I think the first step in resolving the problem of exactly what too much screen time is, is to identify how much time your kids are spending, so I suggest you take The Screen Time Challenge.

Download the Moment Screen Time Tracker and it will tell you how much time you and your family are spending on your phones and tablets every day. You’ll be able to determine which apps are consuming your time. Once you’ve gathered your info for the week, you can use this table to log how much time each kid in your family is spending in front of screens from TVs, consoles, cellphones, computers, tablets, you name it. You’ll be surprised just how high the number might be after only one week.

Once you’ve identified the problem, the second step is to get some help and these apps and devices might be able to give you a hand in controlling screen time around the house.

One app that might be useful is called Dinner Time Plus. Imagine having a remote control for turning off your kid’s electronic devices for dinner, study time and most importantly, for bedtime. Parents can configure the time these devices will be inoperable for kids and for example, from 8:00 PM until 7:00 AM, the tablet or smartphone is basically a brick. This can help with the dreaded powering down struggle of getting your kids to shut down electronics for the night.

Another app with similar functions is called Screen Time. With this app, parents can control which apps are being downloaded by the kids and pause the use of electronic devices but, it goes one step further, you can have them earn screen time by completing homework or household chores. Emptying the dishwasher may earn 15 minutes, science homework 30 min, tidying up their room 20 min and taking out the trash an extra 10. All of a sudden, kids seem very eager to crack open the books or take on the household chores they were ignoring because they were glued to their devices. Pretty clever.

If you want to take it to the next level, Screen is a $99 piece of hardware that works with unlimited devices. It works by plugging it to the TV in conjunction with an app and you can do pretty much all of the above. It works with TVs and gaming consoles as well so you can turn them off remotely, even if you are at work. That’s what I call…peace of mind.

Getting enough sleep and not letting electronics interfere with the sleep routine is more important than you may realize as kids need anywhere from 8 – 11 hours of sleep, depending on their age. Baptist Health South Florida prepared this Back to School Sleep Tips Infographic with information from the National Sleep Foundation that shows how important it is to get good quality sleep once the kids are in school mode.

Controlling screen time can be incredibly challenging but it’s fundamental if you want your kids to succeed in school and life. As kids get older and their digital consumption inevitably increases, they are going to need more controlled access to these devices and the sooner you can set up the rules, the better.

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