We live in a society where everything is available at the touch of a button. Cartoons are on 24-hours a day and even books are more popular to read from a device than actual pages. The ability to limit screen time for our kids is becoming more and more difficult. Thankfully, there are things you can do. Let’s look at some tips to reduce your child’s screen time.
But before we get into the tips, please know that we absolutely do let our kid play on the computer or tablet and play video games. We are not perfect, and there are days when our son spends too much time in front of a screen. Real life happens sometimes when you have to get work or a chore done, and the screen can be a saving grace during those times.
These are just some things that have helped us limit our son’s screen time when we realized he was using devices way too much for entertainment.
Tips to Limit Screen Time
1. Set an Example
Here’s the thing. It’s sort of hypocritical to limit screen time for the kids while you’re glued to your smartphone. You need to set an example and limit your screen time as well. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done when you’re not constantly checking your Facebook feed.
We set aside a couple of hours of family time as many evenings a week as we can, and that time is screen-free time for all of us.
2. Read Together as a Family
Grab a book from the shelf and take turns reading together. If your child is still too young to read, read to him. This can be a wonderful way to spend the evening that doesn’t involve turning on the TV. You can find books very inexpensively at thrift stores and the Dollar Tree. Don’t forget that the library is still a wonderful place to find books as well. We try to visit the library every week or two to grab 10-15 new books.
3. Play Board Games
Instead of turning on PlayStation or Xbox, reach for a board game. There are so many wonderful board games out there for kids. Many board games feature their favorite characters. You can find Monopoly in almost any theme. Board games help kids practice math, reading, strategy, and problem solving.
Jenga, Connect Four, Hungry Hippo and Candy Land are some of our son’s favorites.
4. Go Camping
Imagine an entire weekend away from technology. Wait! Stop panicking. This is a good thing. It’s a time for your family to bond and your child to discover that there is so much more to life than reaching the next level of a video game or seeing another episode of his favorite show. You and your husband may find being away from technology for an entire weekend to be rough, but is can be a great way to clear your mind.
We aim for several camping trips a year in the warmer months, and we camp in a location where we have phone service, but the data signal is low. We talk and play games by the campfire instead of staring at screens.
5. Allow a Set Number of Hours for Screen Time
If you want to keep track of how much time your child is spending in front of a screen, start allowing him hours that can be used for screen time. For example, he might get one hour each evening, but get to use it however he wants. For example, he might spend 30 minutes watching TV and 30 minutes playing a video game. Once his time is up though, it’s up.
We’ve set a time limit, but we don’t usually include educational apps (like Reading Eggs and Math Seeds) in his screen time.
6. Create a To-Do List to Complete Before Screen Time
Last, but not least, consider creating a list of things your child must do before he gets screen time. For example, your child could do his homework, finish a craft project, and read two chapters. Another great tip is to get your child a fitness tracker and only allow screen time once he reaches a set number of steps.
Screen time has its place in our lives, but that place shouldn’t be so large. A bit of TV here and there or a video game played after school isn’t the end of the world. However, it’s worth it to limit screen time for your kids and yourselves to be more engaged with each other.