Striking a balance between allowing technology use and setting boundaries for children is a challenge many parents face. We asked twelve experts, including founders and content writers, to share their strategies for establishing and enforcing healthy technology habits. From setting time limits and parental control to tech-time budget, discover the top insights these professionals have shared.
- Set Time Limits and Parental Control
- Combine Multiple Tech-Use Strategies
- Limit and Specify Use of Technology
- Reinforce Agreed-Upon Tech Boundaries
- Implement a Comprehensive Tech Approach
- Install a Strict Schedule and Activity Variety
- Have a Formal Agreement on Tech Use
- Provide Open Communication
- Balance Tech Time with Other Activities
- Moderate Time Management
- Use Tech Time Windows and Activity Prioritization
- Create a Tech-Time Budget
Set Time Limits and Parental Control
We have two young children, one is four years old, and the other is 10 months old.
For our four-year-old, we have one hour of technology time per day. This is either watching cartoons on the TV or playing educational games on our iPad. We have parental safety on, so there’s no chance of her switching to something else. We also make sure that we’re either with her when she’s on the iPad or nearby when she’s watching the TV.
When we set boundaries, we say there is only one hour of TV/iPad time, which usually takes place in the afternoon, and after that, we have to do something else. She’s generally okay with this and is happy to turn the TV/iPad off to do some more playing.
Content Writer, Rebecca Campbell Ltd
Combine Multiple Tech-Use Strategies
It’s beneficial to have set times for technology use. After homework, perhaps an hour of screen time can be allowed. It’s a way to instill discipline. Also, Parental controls are essential. It’s about ensuring they access appropriate content, not limiting their freedom. My daughter has a specific phone, but it has a lot of restrictions that only allow her to do certain things.
Certain areas, like the dining room, should be tech-free. Also, consider no screens during meals or before bedtime to encourage genuine interactions. For my family, it’s the dinner table.
Finally, understand what they’re exploring online. It’s an opportunity to bond and also to guide them on safe online practices.
IT-Consultant, Kristoffer Thun
Limit and Specify Use of Technology
My 9-year-old has a smartphone because she is also a T1D patient, and it’s connected to her CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) system. The phone is locked for app installing and has very limited access to kid-friendly websites. It can take photos and connect with us, but there are no social media accounts installed.
We also use a laptop for her schoolwork and a Kindle for traveling, but no more than two hours a day. She plays sports a lot and stays away from technology most of the day.
Lead SEO and Founder, Web Design NJ LLC
Reinforce Agreed-Upon Tech Boundaries
This is a great question. I recommend that parents brainstorm their values when it comes to technology. As parents, it’s important to agree on boundaries, such as when children can use technology, how often, etc., before bringing it to your children.
Next, write the boundaries down and discuss the rules as a family with your children. Then comes the hardest part: reinforcing. No matter how many times you discuss the expectations, your children will try to push the boundaries. Reinforce them and stick to it. In time, you’ll see a nice shift.
Azmaira Maker, Ph.D.
Founding Director, Aspiring Families
Implement a Comprehensive Tech Approach
Establishing and enforcing healthy technology habits for children involves striking a balance between use and boundaries. For example, openly communicate with your children about technology, its benefits, and potential risks.
Set clear rules, like limiting screen time to one to two hours per day. Encourage offline activities such as reading or outdoor play. Lead by example and demonstrate healthy technology habits. Create tech-free zones and times, like during meals or before bedtime. Use parental controls and monitoring tools to ensure a safe online environment.
Teach responsible online behavior and digital citizenship. Engage in shared technology activities. Regularly reassess and adjust the boundaries based on your children’s needs. Customize the approach to promote responsible and healthy technology habits for your family.
Install a Strict Schedule and Activity Variety
We enforced a strict schedule right from the very beginning. Our kids know that they can only play with their video console on two specific days of the week, for a maximum of three hours per day.
Their tablet usage is also only once a week, with a maximum of three hours. They don’t touch their gadgets outside of this schedule, but they do have movie nights every Friday and Saturday. They have two days a week where they attend extracurricular activities such as music, theater, or sports classes outside of school, and this gives variety to their weekly schedule. On our downtime days (no extracurriculars or video games), they play with their toys, do arts and crafts, or we go out for a walk, bike ride, or to the playground if the weather permits.
I think the key is variety and a steadfast will. We never use playing with these gadgets as a reward or negotiating point for them, which I think helps because they know that they cannot use it outside of the time that is allotted for it.
PR and Outreach, CodeinWP
Have a Formal Agreement on Tech Use
Establish a written agreement between both parents and children, where you itemize the expected behaviors from both parties. This list can be refined until everyone is happy, and then both parties will sign this policy. It could set out what will happen when either party does not meet its obligations, and it will be important to be consistent with enforcing these outcomes. Yes, this sounds incredibly formal, but it’s a great teaching opportunity for kids. For example, “We expect you will not share images of your body parts online.” This can lead to a discussion around the potentially disastrous consequences of these images being shared online.
Fun, Engaging Cyber Security Awareness Trainer and Cultural Transformation Consultant, Web Safe Staff
Provide Open Communication
One way to establish good technology habits in children is to make them understand their limits—whether it’s time or the kind of use they are allowed. People often use technology as delayed gratification—kids are allowed tablet time after dinner or after they finish all their homework.
But why not also use this time to sit with them once a week so you know what they’re looking at, how much time they are spending on it, and why it’s okay or not okay with you. Communicate freely and openly so they know why restrictions are being placed.
Founder, Boss as a Service
Balance Tech Time with Other Activities
Establishing healthy tech habits for my kids involves clear guidelines, communication, and parental controls. I create tech-free zones and encourage quality content. I balance tech time with outdoor play, reading, and family activities.
For example, I set a daily gaming limit, allowing extra time for good behavior or chores, teaching responsibility and time management. I hope my answer adds value to your query.
Moderate Time Management
For my children and technology, I believe that the best approach is one of moderation. I think it’s important to allow them to use technology as a tool, but also to set boundaries so that they understand how much time they should spend on their devices.
For example, I will often allow my children to use their tablets for homework or other projects, but then set a limit for how long they can spend playing games on them. This helps them learn how to manage their time wisely without going overboard—and I feel like it helps them understand when it’s okay to use technology and when it isn’t.
Owner and Director, Simify
Have Tech Time Windows and Activity Prioritization
Set specific time windows during the day when your children are allowed to use technology, such as smartphones or tablets. For example, you can designate specific hours in the afternoon or evening, and set a limit on the amount of screen time allowed.
Before they can use technology, ensure that schoolwork and physical activities, such as sports or outdoor play, are completed. This establishes a clear priority for education and physical health.
Create a rule that homework or any educational tasks should be completed without the distraction of technology. Designate a quiet study space where they can concentrate.
Ensure that the content they access is age-appropriate and aligns with your family’s values. Use parental controls and monitoring software if necessary. This approach emphasizes the importance of education, physical activity, and family time while still allowing your children to enjoy technology in moderation.
Creative Director, LeadLearnLeap
Create a Tech-Time Budget
To establish and enforce healthy technology habits for my children, we implement the “Tech-Time Budget” system. This system allocates a certain amount of technology time that can be “earned” through chores or academic achievements and “spent” on leisure screen time.
For instance, reading for an hour earns 30 minutes of tech time. This approach gamifies responsible behavior while teaching time management. However, we also have tech-free zones and times, like the dinner table and post-8 p.m., to encourage real-world interactions and healthy sleep patterns.
The key is in the balance: technology as a reward, not a right, while preserving spaces for unfiltered family time. This system allows us to harness the benefits of technology without sacrificing essential life skills and family moments.
Founder and CEO, dasFlow