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Parents Panel: How do you limit screen time for your little ones?

From pulling the plug on Wi-Fi to banning the Xbox on weekdays.

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AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched TheJournal.ie Parents Panel.

This week, we’re asking our panel: How do you limit screen time for your little ones?

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

1. Er, I don’t limit 

I think that if you limit something for a child, that they will want it even more. The TV is always on in the house for background noise, usually CBeebies or Disney Jr. My toddler will happily sit in front of it with her toys, but she’s more interested in playing than watching what’s on.

- Denise Cumiskey

2. I pull the plug

My sons are big tech fans with multiple screens and phones on the go. We clash when it comes to bedtime, especially during school months. I have often had to physically plug out the Wi-Fi router or remove my younger son’s tablet from his bedroom at night.

- Derek McInerney

3. I refused to buy a TV

My sons are six and three, and we didn’t own a TV until three months ago. As for games consoles, I’ll keep them out of the house for as long as possible – I know too many grown men still playing them!

- Suzie Kelly

shutterstock_505250551 Source: Shutterstock/Tatyana Korotun

4. We have family movie days

Recently we noticed my three-year-old son turning into a bit of a zombie while watching TV and getting very upset when it was turned off. We’ve decided to stop having the TV on just for the sake of it. On Sunday, the three of us sat down on the couch with popcorn and a packet of Buttons each and watched the Minions movie. It was a lovely family activity.

- Olly Keegan

5. I control the Wi-Fi access

With a teen and a pre-teen at home we need to have very strict rules. I use parental controls on the router to limit the type of content that they can view and the time of day that their devices can connect to Wi-Fi. Having a Networking degree comes in handy!

- Ken Hyland

6. He only gets the phone as a treat… or bribe

My nine-month old is obsessed with screens. It’s hard to know what to do. Right now we only get them out as a treat or – more so! – an emergency fix. We can already see him getting frustrated when we don’t let him have our phones, so it will need to be addressed one way or another pretty soon.

- Kait Quinn

kelly-sikkema-266805 Source: Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

7. It’s only on while the baby is napping

It’s a part of their routine, albeit a limited part. My three-year-old now gets 30 minutes of RTÉjr while her brother naps so I can have my lunch and she can have a bit of downtime. They also watch three Fireman Sam episodes before bed.

- Denise

8. No chores, no screen time

We make chores and screen time interdependent, so if they hoover, fold laundry, keep their room clean and all that, they’re allowed to have time on their tablets. There are no smartphones or social media allowed in the house though.

- Susannah O’Brien

john-sting-112628 Source: Unsplash/John Sting

9. He gets 10 minutes a day, max

Three or four times a week I’ll turn on CBeebies for 10 minutes to keep my one-year-old occupied if I need to get something done. Aside from that, it’s baby books and music only.

- Marta Lisiecka

10. I don’t allow phones at mealtimes

My wife and I realise the value of the kids being up to speed with new technologies, but it’s all about balance. When we’re sitting down for meals or out socialising with friends and family, there are no iPads or phones allowed. This can be hard when they see other kids using them, but it’s very important that they learn to interact without a screen in front of them.

- Ross Boxshall

11. Xbox time is not a right, it’s a privilege

We have two smartphones, two Nintendos, two iPads, and an Xbox in the house, but use of them all is limited to weekends only, no exceptions. The kids frequently lose access to any kind of game due to poor behaviour. I am acutely aware of the dangers of the internet and will ensure that as they grow up, they understand those dangers too.

- Alan Dooley

Stay updated by following the Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter – and don’t forget to enter this week’s competition for a two-night getaway to the beautiful Farnham Estate!

More from our Parents Panel: What’s your one tip to keep kids busy over the summer?

And even more: What have you tried to get your kids to eat?>

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