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How to Control Your Child's Tech Use

Childhood isn't endless. Managing tech's influence over young minds and bodies is critical.

More and more expert research suggests a child's developing brain is not equipped to handle the constantly changing apps, games and social media they are being exposed to. While children needed certain technology to learn and stay connected during the pandemic, parents and educators should have concerns about the amount of time spent on screens, the quality of the apps and technology's impact on mental health, real relationships, and their overall ability to put tech aside to do other things.

We've put together a list of ways to take back some control, and also understand a complex landscape that can quickly take over a child's life, if guardrails aren't put in place. It is not in the best interests of Big Tech to help parents and educators because they make money when your child is online. For now, here's our top ways to keep kids screen time safer and more manageable

1.   Screen alerts are distracting and research shows it takes several minutes to re-focus on any task, once an alert goes off. To minimize distractions for young children take their devices and go to Turn Off Notifications. ‍ Go to Settings > Notifications, or swipe left on any incoming notification and hit Manage > Turn Off.

Red is a trigger color and research shows that alerts distract adults. When it comes to our youngest minds, the effects are exponentially more distracting.

2.   Set up Screen Time on their device: Understand how much time your child spends on their screens with them. The best step is to set up Screen Time. It allows parents to block or reduce time on apps, add insight into what your child is doing on their device, manage who they can interact with online, and much more. But kids are smart! Keep checking their phones or iPads regularly, and make sure you set up Screen Time and have a chat about your family's rules about device use in advance. Ever tried to put toothpaste back in the bottle?

3.  Download helpful tools on your child's device: Kids need sleep so it's crucial to help them get more sleep. One way is to turn on NightShift (iOS): Blue light from screens late at night tricks the body into thinking it’s still daytime, which disrupts a human being's natural ability to sleep. So go to Settings > Display & Brightness > turn on Night Shift. We have more guidelines on our Key Findings page.

4.  Don't allow screens in the bedroom. Go out and buy a real alarm clock. They are cheap, and they work.

5.  In-App purchases - How to avoid sticker shock: We've all been shocked as parents by the sudden hundreds of extra dollars, and in some cases, thousands of dollars of charges on our credit card bills. Those seemingly harmless free apps have in-app purchases that children are unaware they are buying. We took this straight from the Apple page and with some luck, you may be able to avoid obscene amounts of charges that are usually not resolved. So here's the guide from the biggest guys in the biz- iTunes Store.

6. How to use Screen Time to prevent in-app purchases
Go to Settings > Screen Time, then tap Turn on Screen Time. If you already had Screen Time turned on, skip to step 3.iPhone Settings with "Turn On Screen Time" selectedTap Continue, then choose "This is My [device]" or "This is My Child's [device]." If you're the parent or guardian of your device and want to prevent another family member from changing your settings, tap Use Screen Time Passcode to create a passcode, then re-enter the passcode to confirm. In iOS 13.4 and later, after you confirm your passcode you'll be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. This can be used to reset your Screen Time passcode if you forget it. If you're setting up Screen Time on your child's device, follow the prompts until you get to Parent Passcode and enter a passcode. Re-enter the passcode to confirm. In iOS 13.4 and later, after you confirm your passcode you'll be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. This can be used to reset your Screen Time passcode if you forget it.Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode, then turn on Content & Privacy.Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases. Tap In-app Purchases and set to Don't Allow.

Childhood is precious, fleeting and fragile. It's time to give tech its rightful place in their young lives. We have lots more to discuss, and ways to support you and your family as technology becomes more prevalent and powerful!

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