Parents are thrilled when kids enjoy reading, online or off, but balance is still important when it comes to screen time.
If your kids are excited to read, that’s great news! Half the battle is already won. But don’t be fooled—if your kids are reading on a tablet or a phone, it’s still considered screen time. It will be critical to set limits on the amount of screen time they’re exposed to, whether they’re enjoying reading for fun or muscling through it for school work.
Dos and Don’ts of Online Reading
The hobbies and habits your kids currently enjoy may determine how they should be consuming books. Once you have an idea of what route works best for them, you can start setting boundaries to encourage healthy behavior.
Do pay attention to the what’s working
You can learn a lot about what works for your kids’ needs by simply observing them. There are pros and cons to both.
If your son or daughter is gaming or watching streaming TV during the day, it might be better to encourage reading physical books rather than reading on a tablet in order to limit screen time.
You may find that reading physical books helps your kids avoid distractions. Afterall, when kids are reading on screens that have full access to the Internet, they’re only a couple of clicks away from YouTube. While digital books can offer interactive features that may get your kids excited to read, those same features are also proven to distract kids from what’s written on the page.
When you’re trying out a mix of both physical texts and digital reading, watch how your kids are responding. Maybe it’s easier for your son or daughter to focus on one subject or type of reading (school vs. leisure) on a tablet than in a book. Or, maybe being allowed to read their school textbooks online inspires them to study more. Take all the little wins you can get while still maintaining a balance of screen reading and mixing in reading physical books.
Recent studies show that students from elementary school to college tend to absorb more when they’re reading on paper than on screens, particularly when it comes to nonfiction material. So, test out that theory with your kids. Take note of how well they are recalling information read on a tablet versus a book.
Don’t read on technology before bed
Try out swapping TV or tablet time for reading real books in the evenings. Reading a real book before bed has been proven to help settle the mind and prepare you for better sleep. In fact, a 2009 study from researchers at University of Sussex showed that six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68 percent, helping to clear the mind before bed. According to psychologists, the human mind has to concentrate fully on reading and the immersed distraction eases muscle and heart tension.
Encourage the “no screens an hour before bedtime” rule by asking the family to all take time to read for fun before bed instead of watching TV.
You can almost guarantee kids are going to try to pull the phones and tablets out before bed. Circle’s Bedtime feature helps parents set consistent lights-out times for devices to avoid all-night Internet binges. Similar to Circle’s Focus Time feature, Bedtime can be set up based on weekdays and weekends.
Do online reading in the morning
Because blue light messes with your sleep patterns, try moving online reading to the earlier part of the day to avoid screens closer to bedtime. Reserve physical books and leisure reading on screens for later in the day to help their brains begin to wind down.
Do introduce blue light-blockers
Blue light-blocking glasses are a well-reviewed option for both kids and adults. Wearing them during the day may help your kids avoid some of the negative light rays that affect their sleep habits and help prevent eye exhaustion while on screens. It doesn’t cut down on screen time, but can help mitigate one of the negative aspects.
Do try different books
If your kids have yet to develop a passion for reading, that’s ok. When it comes to developing a love of reading, a good book goes a long way. Even as adults, not every book will strike a chord. You’ll just need to find the subject matter that inspires your kids to keep at it! This list of entertaining books is a great place to start searching and has a mix of options for all ages.
Dos and Don’ts of Online Reading
Once you know what’s working for your kids when it comes to online and offline reading, it’s time to set the rules and stick to them. Be open and honest, and make sure they feel like they’re part of the conversation, but be firm about your expectations and limits. Whether online or off, encouraging your kids to read at home has so many positive benefits like building vocabulary and developing a sense of imagination.
And remember, you’re not alone. Circle’s Parental Controls will be there to help you monitor and limit screen time while you’re in the process of developing good reading habits with your kids for the future.