There are ten easy strategies to restrict children’s screen usage. Positive habit-forming strategies for unplugging your family and raising healthy, balanced children.
If you’re like most parents, you’re undoubtedly concerned about how much screen time your children are getting.
- Did they overindulge in television today?
- When it comes to playing on the kindle or iPad, how long is too long?
- Is it possible to get rid of displays entirely?
- These are questions I’m sure I ask myself frequently.
My 7-year-old son frequently asks, “Can I watch a show, maybe play video games, I’m bored?” to which I usually respond, “Let’s go outside and play!”
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When the baby is asleep or mommy wants to get some work done, my kids play with gadgets for 45 minutes a day at our house. We also put electronics out of sight and out of reach in a high cabinet or entertainment stand since you know what they say: out of sight, out of mind.
There’s nothing wrong with a little Paw Patrol or Minecraft now and again, as long as their eyes aren’t glazed over from hours in front of the computer and you’re happy with your decision.
After all, anything in moderation is a good rule of thumb, and screens are no exception.
Is Screen Time Harmful or Not? What is the Research on Screen Time?
The evidence on-screen time is clear: less screen time is better for kids.
Children today spend less time outside and participate in less physical exercise than earlier generations, according to studies.
Today’s kids socialize less and have fewer face-to-face contacts, resulting in fewer meaningful ties and bonds with friends and family members.
Although technology has its place, it is apparent that imposing screen time limitations for children, especially those under the age of five, is beneficial.
See also: How To Build A Loving Family
Raising children, especially unplugged children is difficult in this day and age.
Children have an inexhaustible source of energy and require continual supervision. Parents sometimes just need a break or some time to prepare supper while their children are happily busy.
There is a time and a place for screens, no doubt.
Whether you want to reduce your children’s screen time, create realistic restrictions so they aren’t addicted to their gadgets, or completely remove it, here are some simple methods to get your kids off screens – without beginning a power struggle or losing your mind.
Simple Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time
When parents say yes to screen time on a regular basis, it’s generally a simple method to keep kids engaged while we clean, cook, work, or take a break.
It’s all too easy to hand up a device or switch on the TV.
Here are some simple methods to encourage screen-free play that doesn’t need a lot of planning or pricey equipment.
Encourage Outdoor Playtime
When my kids beg to watch a TV or play on their X-Box, my immediate instinct is to tell them to “go outside and play.”
Granted, we’ve turned our backyard into a kid’s playground with a swing set, climbing dome, balls, a sandbox, chalk, bikes, and a basketball hoop in the front driveway over the previous eight years.
Outside, they have a plethora of activities to choose from, and most of the time, their neighbours notice them playing and want to join in. When they’re outside and playing in the fresh air, screens become the farthest thing from their minds.
Running, leaping, climbing, balancing, and exploring with young bodies outside are also important for the development of their gross motor abilities.
Being in a “green” environment has several health advantages that are critical to emotional and mental well-being. The importance of spending time in nature as a child cannot be overstated. Exploring stimulates children’s natural interest in the world around them, allowing them to learn more about it.
Children who are physically active who spend children in nature on a regular basis are healthier, calmer, and more balanced.
Encourage Independent Play
On Tired Mom Supermom, I talk about how essential our routine is a gazillion times, but that’s because it’s the glue that ties our days together.
We all know what occurs during the day since we have a schedule, and there’s time for housework, reading, getting outside, cooking, and even nap time because my youngest still naps (thank you, Lord!)
When you need to get work done, tidy the house, or even read, they are the precious nuggets of time!
When solo play is a part of a children’s daily routine, he or she learns to anticipate when it’s time to play alone.
Here are some suggestions to help your children play independently:
- Simple toys such as blocks, mega blocks, age-appropriate puzzles, magnet tiles, and dolls should be kept in bins.
- Choose toys without batteries, sounds, or flashing lights, which can affect a children’s attention span.
- Make a play area in your home for your kids to explore their imaginations with stuff like dress-up toys, a dollhouse, or baby dolls.
- For 20-30 minutes of independent play, provide a sensory experience. Rice bins with measuring cups or red solo cups work nicely with water beads, kinetic sand, play dough, and rice bins with measuring cups or red solo cups.
Keep Devices Out of Reach
Keep your electronics in a cabinet or other out-of-reach location, preferably behind closed doors. They won’t ask for it if they can’t see it.
This makes it simpler to hide gadgets, but you can also unplug and remove remote controls from televisions to prevent them from being switched on and utilized.
My husband and I store the remotes in a drawer in the entertainment centre, out of reach of small hands. We also have our cable box on top of the entertainment centre, from which we can switch on or off the complete device.
Consider rearranging your device’s positioning and set-up to make it simpler for children to use the accessibility. I use it when it’s not conveniently available.
Keep a Special Stash of Activities on Hand
I admit that I feel a touch of pressure to cram as much as possible into my days with my kids, but I still have to pay our mortgage and put gas in the car that transports them to their many activities.
I need to work, and I don’t want to put the kids in front of a screen to do it.
This is why, when I need the kids to play independently, I have a stockpile of activities on hand.
Isn’t it nice to be prepared and have a strategy in place? These activities include new sticker books, exciting STEM activities, forgotten sensory bins and more.
Allow Kids To Earn Some Extra Screen Time
Isn’t it okay to allow some screen time in moderation?
So, why not give it a boost?
Make screen time restrictions for your kids, such as a program or 30 minutes of screen time if they complete a task. Here are some ideas to get you started:
They must first finish age-appropriate chores, assist around the house, and care for family pets.
Pulling weeds in the yard, assisting with a garden, mowing, reading, and completing all assignments are all excellent ways to earn time.
30 minutes of outdoor play
Spend 30 minutes doing anything energetic like riding bikes, shooting hoops, or using the scooter.
The trick is to keep children’s screen time to a minimum. The easiest approach to make this restriction stick is to give them 20 or 30 minutes of screen time with a limit on how much they may earn.
You’ll also want to make sure that this fits in with your daily and weekly screen time restrictions.
Implement No Screen Days
Every member of your family should take a break from screens and devices at least once a week.
On Sundays, we avoid using social media or watching television in our homes and instead spend time together outside.
If your family time consists of sitting in front of the television together, I believe you are losing your capacity to connect and create meaningful moments with one another.
There are times when screens can be a relief, such as when your children are sick, you are sick, or the weather outside is scorching hot or freezing cold, but if this is your go-to babysitter every time something like this arises, you will never be able to break your children’s screen time habits.
Watch Your Own Screen Habits
Healthy Screen Habits to Model
You are the first and most important teacher for your child. What you model for them is what they will emulate, so set a positive example if you want children to have healthy screen usage habits.
That means if you’re always on your phone or watching TV, your child will most likely follow in your footsteps.
The key to success is moderation. It’s fine to check your phone or watch a show now and again, but keeping track of your device and screen usage sets a good example for your child.
Here are some suggestions for adult healthy habits:
- While dining, keep your gadgets away from the table.
- Put your phone down and give your entire attention to your children when they ask for it.
- Turn off the television throughout the day and only turn it on when your children are sleeping.
- Remove applications from your phone to avoid being tempted to browse or check in frequently.
- Set your phone to aeroplane mode to avoid being connected to the internet.
Screen Time Shouldn’t Be A Reward
When you give a child anything as a reward, such as a screen time, they perceive it as valuable and enticing.
Isn’t that how reward systems work?
If you obey the rules and help around the house, you can earn something “good.”
You don’t want to express a desire for children to have screen time as a reward if your objective is to restrict, minimize, or remove it entirely.
In your fight against screen time, it’s not a winning strategy.
Instead, choose incentives that will get your kids out of the home and active, such as playing with a new jar of bubbles, filling up a backyard pool to splash in, or running through sprinklers.
Here are some healthy and athletic alternatives to chocolate.
- Give your kids a fresh set of chalk or a bubble tube as a reward.
- Make use of a sticker chart.
- Stickers, painting materials, and a fresh jar of play dough are all on the way
- Dried fruit or a popsicle
- Make a special excursion or visit a new park in your neighbourhood.
Track Your Screen Time
Consider how much screen time you want your children to spend on a daily and weekly basis, and then keep to those restrictions by enforcing them.
It’s simple to say “yes” to one more programme or forget to look at the clock while they’re watching one. And we all know that when we don’t keep to our limits, our kids soon figure out where they can push the envelope with their parents.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has several recommendations regarding screen time:
- Children under the age of 18 months have no screen time save for video conferencing (with Mom, Dad, or Grandma for example)
- 18 months to 24 months: Less than an hour of high-quality content every day
- 2–5 years: 1 hour of high-quality programming each day at most
High-quality programming is content that is age-appropriate and educational, such as Sesame Street or a nature show on PBS.
Children at this age don’t know how to distinguish truth from fiction, so they require a parent to watch the show with them and explain what they’re seeing.
Replace Watching With Listening
There are several methods to listen to interesting entertainment for young children without having to view something on a screen.
To get you started, consider the following suggestions:
- To play kid-friendly audio material, get a screen-free smart speaker like an Echo Dot.
- Play some songs
- Play a directional tune (you might find these on youtube but all you have to do is minimise the screen). The song will instruct children to “put your hands on your head and wriggle all around,” among other things.
- Listen to a book on tape
- If you’re in the vehicle or on a road trip, listen to a podcast or read children’s books.
- I use Audible to listen to audio books for myself and my kids. The best part is that Audible gives you two free audiobooks when you join up for a free 30-day trial – and you can keep them even if you cancel! To join up for a free trial or learn more about Audible, go to this page.
What is the magical effect of listening rather than watching?
Instead of looking blankly at a screen, children who are actively engaged or dancing to music.
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“GENTLE PARENTING IS A LIFESTYLE THAT EMBRACES BOTH YOUR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR, NOT ONLY TOWARDS YOUR CHILDREN, BUT TO YOURSELF TOO“— SARA HOCKWELL-SMITH