There are ten easy strategies to restrict children’s screen usage. Positive habit-forming strategies for unplugging your family and raising healthy, balanced children who are more into life than their devices.
Hey, I’m Elizabeth. Mom of 3 and a gentle parenting advocate. I am raising my children with calm and kindness, and learning along the way.
Children’s brains need stimulation to learn and grow. In times of gadgets and games, children have become addicted to screen time that hampers their brain development. They tend to stay home and not interact with their peers. They become physically unhealthy as they spend hours on screen.
If you’re like most parents, you’re undoubtedly concerned about how much time your children are getting in the digital world.
- Did they overindulge on electronic devices today?
- When it comes to playing on the kindle or iPad, how long is too long?
- Is it possible to get rid of screens entirely?
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, but social interaction, physical activity and quality time with the family are also very important things to incorporate into our days.
The bottom line is you should encourage independent and outdoor playtime, implement no screen days, use audio books in place of screens and definitely watch your own screen time habits.
Here are some ways you can raise kids who are not addicted to screens, in other words, unplugged kids.
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 and more time online due to our tech-obsessed world.
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 use of technology limitations for children and advocating for your kids to spend more time in the real world, especially those under the age of five, is beneficial.
Raising children, especially unplugged children is difficult in this day and age, especially because with cell phones in our hands we are also constantly in front of the screen.
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 kids’ screen time, no doubt.
Whether you want to limit screen use, 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.
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.
If you are worried your children will whine without their screens, then you need to read this resource: 3 Things That Will Stop Your Childs Whining In It’s Tracks.
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.
Remember that you are the parent, so if you want your kids to have less screen time, that is your call. 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 play their electronic games, my immediate instinct is to tell them to “go outside and play.”
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. Even in the digital age, getting kids outside is very healthy!
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 ground rules, and there’s time for housework, reading, getting outside, cooking, and even nap time because my youngest still naps.
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. If you’re in a house with plenty of technology, this could get tricky, but there are a couple of different ways you can take the tech away.
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.
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 for hours of straight playtime to do it because then their physical health suffers.
This is why, when I need the kids to play independently, I have a stockpile of activities on hand.
Allow Kids To Earn Some Extra Screen Time
Isn’t it okay to allow some screen time in moderation when you’re in pursuit of less technology?
So, why not give it a boost?
Make screen time restrictions for your kids, such as a time limits on 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.
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 for the health of your child’s brain. 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 for healthy development.
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. Setting screen time rules in real life is an important way for human beings to get connected and spend some quality time together.
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.
the first screen-free day will be difficult, but take a deep breath and keep the digital media off for one day and see the positive effect that can have on kids of all ages.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
Raising Unplugged Kids Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you’re in charge here and if you need your child to spend less time on screens then it is up to you to change that.
You can start by minimizing your own screen time and reminding your children that their screen time is a privilege that has to be earned. It is important to have other activities in mind when you’re weaning your child from constant screen time, but there will come a time where you’ll find your kids will be just fine when they are bored.
Remember to set time limits for screen time and encourage your kids to run, jump and move instead!
You can raise unplugged kids, and I promise, it does get easier with time. Good luck!