These simple tools can help parents manage screen time

For most of us parents, setting up screen time limits is a struggle. And carrying through with enforcing them is another story. We know all too well that once a child hops on their device, it can take hours upon hours to wriggle a gaming controller, tablet, or even remote control from their little paws.

The bad news is, the struggle is real. The good news? Big tech companies have felt our pain (probably because they are parents themselves), and have come up with a wide range of solutions around the issue of setting and enforcing screen time limits.

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, children ages two to five should have no more than one hour of screen time daily, and kids older than five should have just under two hours a day. Meanwhile, kids under the age of two should have zero access to screen time.

These are the recommendations; however, the average parent knows the difficulty around attaining these screen time goals. Thankfully, these days there are a plethora of tools at your fingertips to help you provide realistic screen time goals for your child.

Apple and Android

Both Apple and Android products have built-in software around screen time limitations within their devices. When it comes to Apple products, a “Screen Time” feature can be found within the “Settings” function, showcasing a detailed report on web activity and apps. It also allows parents to set time limitations on the overall device and specific apps (looking at you, TikTok and YouTube).

You can also place a “Downtime” setting that will blackout the device at a certain time, where only phone calls (or any apps you approve) can come through. Parents come up with a PIN code to set all screen time limitations and to adjust and disable any if need be.

Much like Apple’s “Screen Time” function, Android products have a feature around screen time limit enforcement in their “Digital Wellbeing and Parental Control” tool. Offering up screen time limitations on the device and apps, they also provide a colourful graph to highlight screen and app usage and offer “Nighty Night” locking capabilities at bedtime.

Computers and laptops

Google’s Family Link is an app that can be downloaded on Android devices, and is also used on Chromebooks to help enforce screen time and schedules. Meanwhile, macOS Catalina offers parents with Mac products all the same screen time features that their children’s Apple tablets and smartphones have. You can monitor their usage, set limits, and schedule downtime.

Microsoft users can limit their kids’ screen time on their Windows 10 laptops and desktops (as well as Xbox and Android devices) by heading to the “Family Settings” on their Microsoft account. 

Video games

Speaking of Xbox, while you can only control screen time for Xbox video gaming via your Microsoft account, Nintendo Switch offers comprehensive “parental control” functions via an app you can download to your smart device, enforcing screen time and play right at your fingertips (even if the game and kids are in the basement).

Screen times and scheduled game times can be launched, adjusted, or disabled via a parent PIN code, where alarms and messages pop up to let kids know when playtime is on, and over.

Meanwhile, Sony’s PS4 has a fair amount of parental controls as well, which can be accessed within its system. From setting monthly screen time limits to ensuring your child’s friends adhere to any restrictions you set for you kiddo while they are over, no stone is left unturned in the land of gaming and screen time limit enforcement.

Apps

OurPact is a great app for enforcing screen time limits and schedules on your child’s tablet or smartphone, where parents can access everything on their device. It also offers a premium service that allows monitoring for up to 20 devices!

Tools

Need a solution for your entire home? You can manage screen time and schedules throughout your whole house with the Circle Home Plus device. It’s a one-stop-shop when it comes to parent-controlled technology, and while the Circle App can be used on its own to monitor devices, the Circle Home Plus tool is hooked up to your home’s router and with the app, ensures all devices under one roof are monitored (including smart TVs!).


Further reading:

5 ways to get your kids off their screens and active

Why parents should be mindful of their own screen time

Could your family go screen-free? It may surprise you which families are

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