How to Reduce Screen Time for My Kids?

Most people would agree (with the exemption of children) that a two-hour screen time per day is the limit for children. It has been a struggle for most parents to limit their kids’ screen time. But there is also a lot of debate about it since the technology evolved.

Today, most screens are used for education, communication, and everything else you need visuals on. So, for the sake of this article, let’s define “screen time” as the time spent in front of the screen for entertainment purposes. Let’s exclude classes, research, art, video conference, and everything else you and the kids might find boring.

Establish a Time Limit for Screen Time

Let’s be fair to every family member and set a limited screen time each day for everyone. Make it a part of the household rules that everyone gets a maximum of two hours each day for screen time. And an extra two hours for family movie night as long as the family is spending quality time in front of the screen.

Turn Off Screens at Night

Ask your kids to turn off their mobile devices during bedtime. Make it a rule for the entire household to set their phones and tablets down somewhere far from the bed and that those devices are banned from the bed. Some families even have a designated charging station where all the electronics are deposited before bedtime. Unless it’s necessary for the kids’ education, limit each family member to one electronic device each. It would help avoid cheating the two-hour screen time rule if they saved their allotted time for their favorite video game before bedtime. This applies to you, too, so you won’t binge on the new season of your favorite series. 

Plan Activities that Don’t Involve Screens.

Even if your kids follow the two hours per day rule, don’t leave them just staring at the drywall. Give them a few alternative activities they can do without a screen. Maybe they have a few interests that you want to cultivate. The absence of a screen is the best time for it. Board games and Arts and crafts are the “go-to” activity, but you can be more creative than that. If you can, try to introduce them to D&D or get them to read adventure novels or fantasy series, or some other physical activity.

Encourage Kids to Explore the Outside World

Again, don’t leave them staring at the drywall! Encourage them to explore the outside for some unstructured playtime. Introduce a few outdoor games they can play or have them create their own outdoor game. Build them a fort if you can (don’t do it if you don’t know about structural integrity, you might put the kids in danger), or set up scavenger hunts in the backyard.

Have Them Do Chores.

Teach them life skills and responsibility by giving them chores and helping around the house. It may not be easy to get them to do chores because let’s face it, it’s boring, but it’s an excellent way to reduce their screen hours.

Declare “Phone Free” Areas in Your House

Make it a family rule that there are no phones during family meals; thus, mobile devices are banned from the dining area. You can do this in other areas, too but make sure you are making the rules because of something else and not just restrictions. For example, no phones in the bathroom because they might get wet or on the beds because they might break.

Be Firm yet Flexible with The Family Rules

Lead by example and limit yourself, too. Don’t get yourself too absorbed with your shows and that you exceed the agreed-upon time frame. If you want your kids to reduce their screen time, you have to do it as well. Set repercussions for breaking the rules revoking access to devices, but give enough slack for negotiation. If a kid asks for an additional screen time of thirty minutes today in exchange for tomorrow’s screen time, think about it well and offer your terms. Negotiation may bend the daily time limits a bit, but it will teach your kids some essential social skills.

Things to Remember:

  • Effects of screen time reduction can be both positive and negative. Make sure you fill the void with something equally interesting and entertaining as anime and other exciting device usage.
  • Just because your child is in front of the screen does not mean it constitutes screen time. There are some hobbies and professions that involve the use of a digital device, like graphic design, graphic arts, and architecture. Reducing the time for pursuing passion may affect your child’s performance and outlook.
  • Most resources are on the internet, and it’s easier for a student to find what they need online. A kid on the internet may be researching things he needs for school. Most teachers are also aware of this and have taken into account the availability of the resources in setting deadlines. So, please don’t tell your children to do it the old fashion way and don’t do the “back in my day” speech. Back in our day, we get a month to research what is expected of them overnight.
  • Communication is mainly done through video chat and video calls. Talking to friends, coworkers, classmates, and other family members is usually done in front of the screen. What may seem to you as screen time might be an important conference call or video chatting with group members for school work or checking that critical email from a Nigerian Prince.
  • Some resource materials, study guides, and learning material are no longer available in print but rather as e-books. It might seem like they’re playing violent video games with their eyebrows furled, but they also might be trying to understand algebra.
  • If your children have vision problems, excessive screen time can have negative results, and you may want to seek professional advice.

With the examples mentioned above, be careful about how you limit screen time. It’s up to you to set the family’s daily limits, device usage, and punishment but pay attention and understand the activity in front of the screen before passing the penalty for breaking family rules. Be gentle and set reasonable limits. Be understanding about kids and their precious devices that hold all worldly knowledge. Be loving parents that bless children with screen time and reasonable limits. And as always, have fun with the kids!

Charlee

Charlee

I'm a Mom of two daughters, Freya and Ava. I love to share insights on how parents can be better parents. I write about topics that are relevant to me as a parent: things like parenting style, relationship, marriage, and balancing work and family.

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