The modern world presents a new dilemma for today’s parents. On the one hand, you want to give your child access to technology so they can grow up tech-savvy and not be behind their peers. On the other hand, you want them to develop into well-rounded people and are wary of the effects of smartphone use at a very young age. As parents with a busy household, we at SLYK fully understand this dilemma and believe that moderation is the answer. However, this is easier said than done. So, how do you keep your children’s phone use to a reasonable amount,? This guide will feature certain technologies that can help to curb phone use in children, as well as some tips and tricks you can try as a parent.
When in doubt, turn to tech – fight fire with fire.
Most modern smartphones have built-in features to help limit your child’s (and your own) phone use. Both iOS and Android devices now allow you to track your phone usage and see which apps are being used most. This is particularly useful as you can see exactly what your child is spending their phone time on. Then, Parental Controls on iPhones allow you to restrict access to certain applications and content on your child’s phone, and Google’s Digital Wellbeing features are similar. Knowing which particular apps are being used most will make your restrictions more effective. For instance, you may not want to block every app in case your child is in an emergency and needs to contact you.
A big problem is children using their phones just before going to bed which can interrupt their sleeping pattern. Both iOS and Android have features that allow you to set a time for when the phone will start ‘winding’ down, by restricting access to certain apps, limiting notifications, and even making the screen turn grey to act as a deterrent. You can even remotely lock your child’s device if other deterrents aren’t working.
There’s an app for that
It may be a cliché, but it certainly rings true in this case. There’s a variety of apps that you can download to your child’s phone that will help you to monitor and restrict their phone usage with ease. FamilyTime is a great app that stops your child from using their phone too much. It’s available for iOS and Android and gives you as a parent virtually total control over your child’s phone usage.
It has similar features to the inbuilt services discussed above, including setting time limits, restricting app access, blocking certain content, and remote locking. But where FamilyTime sets itself apart is by going above and beyond with extra safety features. For example, it includes an SOS button and allows you to set speed limits for teenage drivers. It also enables you to add people to a watchlist, whereby you’ll receive a notification when they try to contact your child, allowing you to stay on top of any bullying or unwanted attention your child may receive.
SLYK saves the day
We would be remiss not to mention our very own SLYK device stands and charging station. They provide a great way to not only limit your child’s phone use but also to ward off any posture problems when they are using their phones. The dreaded iHunch (rounded shoulders and neck from looking down at a phone) is a danger to us all, especially in children whose spines are still developing. Our SLYK device stands are ergonomically designed to make using a phone or tablet as comfortable as possible. Regardless of where in the house your child uses their phone, with a SLYK stand you can be sure that their posture isn’t suffering as they consume content.
Then there’s our charging station. This family charging dock serves as a hub for all your smart devices, allowing you to charge up to six iPhones and two other devices at once. This means that when it’s dinner time or family time, you can easily make sure that your children’s phones are out of their hands. Want to stop your children mindlessly scrolling after lights out? Get them to charge their devices downstairs, out of sight and mind. The plus side to this is that while your children aren’t using their phones, they’re being charged, ready for use when you allow them to return. This serves as a win-win situation for you and your children.
We don’t claim to be parenting experts and we’d never tell you how to treat your child, but here are some considerations that might prove useful in your battle against your child’s iPhone addiction.
Lay down the law
Children have always had certain additions, whether it be certain toys, games or activities. Parents have had to battle with these additions for generations, and a smartphone is just another example. It stems from setting firm rules. For example, no phones at the dinner table, and no phones for an hour before bed. Setting hard and fast rules like this, and upholding them, with leave your child with no choice but to put their phone down for a while. People have found success by implementing ‘no screen zones’ in the house, such as the bedroom, dining area and kitchen. Perhaps you could have bowls near the entrance to these rooms in your house which your child can place their phone in as they enter a restricted room.
Of course, this is easier said than done, and while it will reduce your child’s screen time, it won’t reduce their desire to use their phone. Hence the next item on this list.
While setting rules is important, they may not be easy to enforce. In order to limit any potential complaints, it’s a good idea to provide alternative activities for your child to do instead of using their phone. Having nothing else to do and being told to put down the phone can be a little cruel, but a phone is far less appealing for a child if they’re engaged in something else.
Watch a movie together, play a game, or teach your child a new skill. You’ll hit two birds with one stone with this method as you’ll enjoy some quality time and get your child to stop using their phone. If your child is having a good time, they won’t give their phone a second thought.
There’s an inherent difficulty in this task that comes from phones connecting us to each other. We feel left behind if we’re not active on certain games or social media because we know our friends are; they’re levelling up and communicating with each other while you’re doing something else. As an adult, this can be an issue for some people, but as a child in school, feeling ‘left behind’ is a huge deal. By showing that there is more to life than what happens on a phone, you may help them overcome this feeling.
Lead by example
They say that our children don’t listen to us, they imitate us. Plus nobody likes a hypocrite. So if you’re on your phone all the time, it’s going to be an uphill battle to get your children to put their phone down. Not only will limiting your phone use make your child less likely to be a phone addict, but you’ll also get to interact with your child more. It’s another win-win. You could follow some of the rules we mentioned above yourself, such as no phones at the dinner table, no phone use an hour before bed, and try to only take phone calls when your child is around (limit mindless scrolling for when they’re asleep, for example).
With you as the major role model in your child’s life, it’s far likelier that they’ll grow up with a healthy relationship with their phone if you also have a healthy relationship with yours.
Mobile phones are such a huge part of our culture nowadays, and limiting anyone’s usage can be difficult. However, by following our advice, we’re sure that your child will reduce their phone use in no time. For more tech tips or the latest phone news, be sure to check out our blog. Don’t forget to view our product range and see how a SLYK device can be the next addition to your household.