The Parent’s Dilemma: How to Handle Your Child’s Screen Time?

Two kids sit in an embrace in front of a TV. There's a cartoon on the TV screen. The header on the right side of the image says "Screen Time For Kids Guide" and there's an AirBeamTV logo above the image.

The Ultimate Guide On Screen Time For Kids in 2024

According to data presented by Statista, in 2021, 53% of US children have owned a smartphone before the age of 11. That’s a lot of kids with potential access to the Internet, games, apps, social media and much more. As a parent, it’s in your hands to set up healthy screen time boundaries for your kids.

In this handy guide, our experts at AirBeamTV go in-depth about the dangers of no screen time limits. We’ll also show you how to set up and check screen time on Android, iPhone and iPad.

Three kids sit on a grey couch. Two of them are using smartphones and one is using an iPad

Screen Time For Kids Expert Opinion

Learn what experts say about the right screen time for kids and avoid unnecessary or justified concerns.

Many children want nothing more than to play video-games and watch Netflix, Tiktok, Instagram, and YouTube videos. And no wonder, they are colorful, flashy and fun! This presents parents with a dilemma: how much screen time do I give my child and what do I let them do or not do? You shouldn’t ban anything – say experts – that is counterproductive.

“I have nothing against iPads or screens.” With that remark, remedial educationalist and child psychologist DaniĆ«lle Goedhart opens the conversation with the Dutch online newspaper NU.nl. “It is part of this time. You have to teach your children to deal with it well.”

Father and a child lay on their stomachs and watch some content on a tablet.

According to Goedhart, it is important that parents keep control. Netflix allows you to set age-restricted profiles. The parent can also determine which games the child is allowed to play on the game computer. But with TikTok and YouTube, that’s a different story. “They adapt content to the viewing behavior of the child. As a parent, you have almost no control over what they will see.”

This raises the question of whether parents should prohibit their child from using YouTube or TikTok, for example. According to Ingmar Franken, professor of Clinical Psychology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, that is not a good idea. “Nothing is more interesting and attractive than when it is forbidden.”

A Smart TV on a drawer that is surroudned by Star Wars merchandise such as a Darth Vader suit or Baby Yoda plushie

“If you start banning things or imposing restrictions as a parent, children will look elsewhere,” says Franken. “Then you no longer have any supervision or influence over it.”

No golden rule for screen time

In addition to the question of what children are allowed to watch or do, many parents also struggle with the question of how much screen time they should give their child.

According to Goedhart, there is no golden rule for this. “It very much depends on the child and age.”

Two kids sit by the kitchen table. Their mother is standing over them. They are eating food.

“There are children who want nothing more than to look at a screen. Then screen time provides clarity,” explains Goedhart. “But there are also children who will do something else after a while. Then screen time is less important.”

Parents should especially look at the balance, says Koen Schobbers, author of the book “My Gaming Child”. He therefore recommends the ‘Play Wheel of Five’, in which there must be a balance between social contacts, sleep, study, sport and play.

A father is sitting in a chair with a laptop on his lap. His daughter sits on the floor with a pulpit with paper and drawing supplies.

“If that is in balance, there is no discussion about screen time,” says Schobbers. “With a good balance, children don’t have time to spend hours in front of a screen”.

Decrease in creativity is a red flag

According to Goedhart, several scientific studies show a connection between screen time and creativity in children. “The more time children spend behind a tablet, for example, the less creative they are in their own game. They then no longer know what they can play with and how to do it. To me that is really a signal that a child has too much screen time got.”

Two young adolescent kids sit on a couch with remotes in their hands.

Sometimes parents think that children who can hardly be kept away from the screen are addicted to TikTok or gaming, for example. According to Franken, this is not possible: “So far, only gambling addiction has been recognized as an addiction that does not depend on substances such as alcohol and drugs.”

According to Franken, parents should not be too quick to use the label ‘addiction’. “There is only an addiction when it is impossible to stop something and everything has to give way to the addiction. And what would you rather have: a child who plays games or a child who is on alcohol or drugs?”

Gaming addiction

Two smartphones on a dark surface. There's a keyboard in the corner of the image

In 2013, gaming addiction was included in the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual used internationally by psychiatrists. The WHO has also recognized gaming addiction since 2018. And gaming addiction can be dangerous for people, even if there is no question of substance abuse. This is also becoming increasingly common among young people.

Internet safety for kids

Of course we cannot talk about screen time for kids without mentioning the dangers of the Internet. The web is filled to the brim with content depicting violence, harmful ideologies, pornography and much more. Kids shouldn’t see such things as they can leave lasting damage.

The worst thing is that your kid can stumble upon such content completely by accident. That’s why, as a parent, you need to take proactive measures. For example, start by blocking certain websites.

On iOS (iPhone/iPad), do the following:

  1. Go to Settings – Screen Time.
  2. Go to Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  3. Enter your passcode.
  4. Click Content Restrictions, and then Web Content.
  5. From there, you can limit access to certain websites or block adult content.

For Android, theere’s no in-built way to block websites for your kids’ safety. Instead, you’ll have to use third party apps, such as LeechBlock for Mozilla Firefox.

How to limit screen time for kids?

A child is sitting in front of a TV in a living room. The header on the right side of the image says "Screen Time For Kids Guide" and there's an AirBeamTV logo above the image.

To limit screen time for kids, you can try the following methods:

  1. Set a schedule: Establish specific times for screen usage, such as after homework and before bedtime.
  2. Use parental controls: Enable built-in parental controls on devices or use third-party software to limit access and set usage time limits.
  3. Encourage alternative activities: Promote physical activity, reading, or other leisure activities to replace screen time.
  4. Lead by example: Be a role model by limiting your own screen time and showing the value of non-screen activities.
  5. Make it a family rule: Make screen time a family decision, with rules and consequences for overuse.
  6. Explain the dangers: Educate kids about the potential dangers of too much screen time, such as reduced physical activity, disrupted sleep, and decreased attention span.

Remember, it’s important to strike a balance between screen time and other activities for the well-being of children.

Mom sits on a couch with a remote in hand and a your child on her lap. There's a house plant in the background.

How to check screen time on Android phone or tablet?

To check screen time on an Android phone or tablet, you can use the following steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” app: On your Android device, open the “Settings” app.
  2. Tap on “Digital Wellbeing & Parental controls”: Depending on your Android version and device, this option may be located under a different name such as “Digital Wellbeing” or “Device care.”
  3. View your screen time: In the “Digital Wellbeing & Parental controls” section, you can view your screen time data, including the total time spent on your device and the amount of time spent on specific apps.
  4. Review app usage: Tap on “App usage” to view a breakdown of how much time you’ve spent on each app.
A woman is laying on the couch together with her young kid. She has a remote on her hand.

Note: Screen time tracking features may not be available on all Android devices, or the location and availability of these features may vary based on the Android version and device model. If your device does not have a built-in screen time tracker, you can download a third-party app from the Google Play Store to track your screen time.

How to check screen time on iPhone

iPhones are some of the most popular smartphones on the market. It’s likely that your kid has one or will want one. Here’s how to set screen time on your kid’s iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings – Screen Time.
  2. Click ‘This is my child’s iPhone’.
  3. Now, you’ll be able to see your kid’s screen time reports.

To access Screen Time reports form your kid’s iPhone go to Settings – Screen Time – See All Activity.

How to set Screen Time on iPad

iPads can often be a parent’s first choice when it comes to providing their kids with some digital entertainment. A bigger screen is definitely more fun and engaging for the little one!

Here’s how you can set Screen Time on your kid’s iPad:

  1. Go to Settings – Screen Time.
  2. Click Downtime to set up automatic notification shutdown at certain times.
  3. Click App Limit to set up usage limits for particular apps.

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