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Simon Grehan is the Department of Education's Internet Safety Officer and WebWise Project Coordinator and he has four great tips to limit screen time for your kids as he told RTÉ LifeStyle's Taragh Loughrey-Grant.
There is no magic number for screen time usage. They used to say two and two, no screens before the age of two and no more than two hours after but so much of what we do now involves screens that these guidelines have been shelved and it’s really more important to see what your child is doing and know who they’re doing it with then counting the amount of time spent looking at screens.
1. Agree to boundaries and limits with your child
Explain why boundaries are being set, talk about it. That would normally apply to amount of time spent on screens during the day, the curfew of what time it stops at night and the places where children are allowed to do this. It varies depending on the age of the child and their ability to look after themselves.
2. Lead by Example
When you agree to the rules follow them yourself, this is really important in getting the children to follow what you say. Sometimes you’ll have to say there are different rules for adults and children but please do explain why you’re not following the rules set down in the house.
It’s a busy world and we can often find ourselves in situations where we need the time to do something and the temptation is to give the child a screen to look at so that we can do other things. We’d just say don’t give the child the screen all the time, vary the way you're getting the child to occupy themselves on their own.
4. Get involved
This is a really good opportunity to find out what the child does and who they’re doing it with is by sitting down with them and doing it together. If they’re playing Minecraft, spend a little time with them, get them to show you what they do and you can get a feel for the kind of people they’re interacting with online. Also set aside a little bit of time during the week where you do things together that don’t involve screen times, play board games, going for a walk just something that doesn’t involve a screen.
Simon Grehan is the Department of Education’s Internet Safety Officer and WebWise Project Coordinator.