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How to manage your child's screen time without ruining all the fun

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"Mom, can I watch something on Netflix on the iPad?" My oldest often asks. Think about how strange this sounds compared to when us parents were asking our folks to watch TV?

I remember I'd beg them to let me watch something on TV, selecting from maybe 4-5 channels, often just putting up with whatever was on, whether that was the nightly news or some sitcom I barely understood.

But now, everything is on-demand, there are rarely any commercials, and you can stream just about every TV show you want online. The days of having to wait patiently for Saturday morning cartoons or your favorite weekly cop drama are long gone. Even finding your favorite sports team to watch their games online is possible these days.

And while the easy access to everyone's favorite shows all the time might seem great, it has created a new set of "rules" around our house. Screen time among children has obviously skyrocketed over the past few years. and there is plenty of research suggesting that this should be limited.

We make sure that our kids only get access to a few select hours of TV a week, but in order to make them feel like they're part of this decision, and that it's not a mandate, we let them pick the shows they want to watch at the beginning of the week, like a draft of sorts. The kids love it, because they get to try and figure out what they're going to spend their time watching.

To add an element of fun, we also count things like educational programming as "more valuable" than other TV, meaning if they want to spend more time watching something, they can certainly pick "edutainment" in order to get more TV time. It works pretty well!

The other important thing to keep in mind is that I'm setting an example for my children. If I'm always checking my phone, they're watching this behavior. I make sure that while I'm around the kids, I minimize my screen time as well. I get it, work emails, social media, and daily news can make it hard to unplug, but it has made it a lot easier to find other things to do with the family instead of always staring at my phone.

How about you? Do you have any fun ways in which you encourage less screen time around the house?

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