Tablets are pretty much a standard part of parenting life. Nearly every mummy blog will mention the electronic babysitting devices; they’re a permanent fixture on many restaurant tables and can be an endless battle at home. So how much screen time is too much and how do you make the decision whether you should even get one in the first place?

Do your research

With so many tablets on the market, it’s important you do your research on the best one to get for your child.  Check sites like Which and Internet Matters for those that have the best parental controls and check which has parental control software that is inbuilt or that you can download. Make sure you set up a two-step verification to ensure your child can’t download anything without your permission and ensure the password is one they won’t know or guess. Most app stores will give you a rating of the app, its features and if there’s any chat facility.  If you’re not satisfied with what you read, do a quick Google search to check out the app and what others have said about it.

When is it okay to tablet?

As with most things, it’s all about balance and what’s right for your family.  Some parents won’t have a tablet or allow their child to play on an electronic device.  You may think that some parents allow their children too much time on them.  In truth there’s no right or wrong answer here, what is important is balance, finding what works for you as a family. It’s important to make sure that screen time doesn’t affect their school work, their ability to spend time as a family or their real friendships and engagement with the real world.

How to set boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries and a realistic timetable for when children can use their tablets and when they can’t.  By doing this from day one, where possible, you’re setting the ground rules and a habit of use will be formed. If you’re already having tablet battles, then create an easy-to-follow chart that can be fitted around a clock, so they can see when they can and when they can’t have their tablet and make when they can at times that won’t affect their homework or bedtime routine. Using it as a reward is a great way to motivate children.  For example, once their homework is done, once they’ve sorted their room or once they’ve helped tidy away after dinner. Whatever and however you choose to award tablet time, just make sure it’s a treat rather than a constant and you can’t go wrong.  If you can, keep the tablets away during meals out.  Pack a box of crayons and paper to keep them entertained and allow the whole family to bond, interact and speak to each other instead of eating with one eye on a tablet and no social interaction at all.