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6 Ways To Control Your Child's Screen Time Around The Holidays

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6 Ways To Control Your Child's Screen Time Around The Holidays

Ah, the holidays. The family is all gathered around the table, we can forget about work and school for a few days, there's good food. And the kids are on their 17th game of "Fortnite" following a three-hour epic skateboard fails marathon on YouTube.

According to advocacy organization Common Sense, tweens spend nearly five hours a day entertaining themselves on screens — and for teens it's seven hours. A quarter of nine-year-olds has a smartphone, and by age 16, it's nine out of 10.

For as addicting as binge-watching Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) can be, here are six tips for keeping screen time from taking the joy out of your holidays.

Give Kids Something Else To Do

This may seem obvious, and it can be difficult, but experts suggest scheduling offline stuff for the kids. You might have to chauffeur, but make them go swimming or skating.

Do Offline Stuff As A Family

Drag the kids on a walk without phones, or ask them to help with dinner. If you're off work, hit a live theater matinee, or a zoo or museum.

One way for kids to get some of the stimulation they'll miss without their screens is to take them Christmas shopping — like actually at an old-school store, with stuff to look at and maybe even buy for someone, not an online store. Tip: If you're trying to reduce screen exposure, don't go to an electronics store.

Related: YouTube Exploring Standalone App For Kids Content

Help Them Watch Specific Things

It's really easy for kids to mindlessly watch video after video with minimal effort, especially if the settings allow the next video to start automatically. The auto-play next video feature can keep kids glued to YouTube all day, watching whatever comes up next. Some experts suggest turning off auto play, so kids at least have to find their next video.

Require kids to, at a minimum, search for entertainment rather than passively allowing YouTube's algorithm to decide what's next.

Use A Screen Time Management Program

There are several technological ways to keep tabs on and limit screen time. Just in time for the holidays, Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) recently rolled out its “Xfinity xFi” scheduling tool.

The feature lets parents set up to 30 different schedules for screen time on each profile, allowing parents to limit screen time on tablets, smartphones or gaming consoles.

The blocking feature can be paused when parents want to let kids use a device, or if someone else needs to use it.

Most online platforms used heavily by kids have some way for parents to limit their use, such as Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AAPL) guided access.

Be A Role Model

You know one way kids learn what to do? They watch their parents. When we tell kids they're spending too much time online, and they see us scrolling through Instagram during Thanksgiving dinner, we're sending the wrong signal.

That's one of the tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics: if we want our kids to put their phones down more, we probably should, too.

Make Screen Time Family Time

Psychologists say kids like watching videos online because it's a time when they can control what's going on - a key need for young kids.

If you're lamenting the loss of your kid from the family during the holidays, meet them part way: make the screen part of the holiday fun rather than mindless distraction.

Have kids go to YouTube and find a particular holiday song, or a holiday song video they like that they can play for the family. This makes media use a family activity, not just a never-ending feed of slime, prank and unboxing videos.

Bonus: Go To China

Okay, joking because that's a little extreme. But the concern over how much time kids are spending playing online games in China has gotten to the point where the government has stepped in and is putting time limits on people's kids for them. Better to do it yourself, right?

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