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Parental Advisory: How to limit your kids’ iPhone usage

Since its inception nearly eight years ago, Apple’s iPhone has received rave reviews from adults and children alike. I mean, it’s a portable computer-like device that does everything but your laundry — what’s not to love? However, even though we all love our iPhones, there’s no denying just how addictive they can be in the wrong hands.

Related: Our favorite kid-friendly apps and picks for the best cellphones for children

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children watch no more than one or two hours of television each day, so it’s feasible they would suggest the same for using an iPhone. Too much sensory stimulation can be detrimental to a child’s developing brain, so parents need to keep this in mind when they shuffle their kids from computer to TV to iPhone to Xbox. Experts agree that children who are glued to the TV or who play too many video games end up having more difficulty learning. Excessive use of electronics can even lead to sullen or aggressive behavior, so it’s definitely a good idea to limit your kids’ iPhone usage. Understanding the need to set barriers is the easy part. Actually enforcing those limits is a different story.

Fortunately, there are a variety ways to curb iPhone usage, whether you prefer to simply talk to your kids or implement software restrictions directly on the smartphone. Below are a few of our favorite methods, because no kid — or adult, for that matter — should waste the entirety of his or her day feverishly playing Candy Crush Saga.

Talk to your children

Start with a frank discussion with your child about the limits you are going to put in place. If your kid has been used to playing with your iPhone anytime she wants, and you suddenly grab it and say “Time’s up!” — well, you can imagine the ensuing temper tantrum that might follow. So, tell your child why you’ve decided to impose time limits to help him/her better understand that it’s in their best interest.

Set rules and follow through

Establish and maintain time restrictions. In the event you have a stubborn child who balks at the idea of limiting his or her time with the iPhone, remain firm in your resolve. Don’t waver or give in when your kids begin making a fuss. Doing so will likely only encourage them to fuss even longer the next time around. Also, explain what the consequences will be if he or she disobeys your time limits, and be consistent.

Encourage outside activities

Encourage your kids to spend time outside whenever possible. Physical activities like riding bikes, playing tag, or swimming are always more beneficial than laying around inside. Let your child join a ballet class or soccer team. Plan play dates with other kids to go to the park or pool. When bad weather keeps you indoors, pull out the dusty board games and get the whole family involved. Try puzzles, scrapbooking, painting, or baking. You’re not a bad parent if there are days your kid plays with an iPhone, but, whenever possible, encourage them to spend time playing with educational apps instead of games. The key is balance and moderation, with a bit of flexibility thrown in.

Next page: Apps to help limit your kids’ use, and other techniques

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