Children nowadays have a lot of screen time - especially in the wake of COVID where the vast majority of us have had our entire lives turned upside-down.
They have gotten used to being on screens for large portions of their day, and as things are returning to some form of "normality", getting them off the screens can prove to be difficult at times.
In this article, we will discuss 9 practical tips that parents can use to reduce the amount of time their children spend on screens to make sure they stay engaged in other activities as well:
1. Create a family schedule for screen time
The first step is to create a family schedule for screen time - this way, parents are able to see just how much screen time their child gets per day, and they can also take into account the other activities that their children will be participating in as well.
This way you know exactly when your child's next dose of digital media will come - even if it does cause some grumbles initially...!
The more consistent you are with this rule over an extended period of time though, the less likely it becomes that your child/children try to resist it because, after awhile, they'll realise what's happening.
2. Limit TV to a set time per day
In addition to limiting the amount of time your kids spend on screens, it's also a good idea to limit TV watching too.
Instead of allowing your children unlimited access to their favorite shows and movies, try setting a specific time for them each day where they are allowed to watch television or use other electronic devices.
For example, you might say "Your favourite show is on at..." - this way, everyone knows exactly when media consumption will begin and so there won't be any last minute rushing around!
Or choose "TV is only allowed on weekends." To be fair, the vast majority of children's TV is scheduled at the weekends anyway, potentially to give mums and dads an easier start to the weekends...
This can help kids learn how to make do with the time they are given because if there's anything else that they want (such as watching something similar online) then it'll require some creativity!
At this point, both parents and children will benefit from each other working together toward a common goal of using screens less often.
3. Make sure children are getting enough sleep
When children don't get enough sleep it can be difficult for them to pay attention throughout the day - this is something that parents need to keep in mind that if their child has had a lot of activity during the day then there's no reason why they shouldn't go right off to bed at night!
This way everyone will wake up fresh and ready for another rich experience with each other.
It also helps if you're able to create a calm environment before going bed meaning your kids have an easier transition from being awake into "sleep mode."
You may want to turn off any lights or minimize noise as much as possible - this makes it easier for children to fall asleep and get the amount of rest they need.
Additionally, it's advisable to avoid using screens in bedrooms because bright lights can make it harder for people to sleep.
To help your kids stay rested throughout the night, try creating a nightly routine that involves dimming any lights before settling into bed.
With this method, you'll be surprised how quickly children learn how to prepare themselves for going to sleep soon after turning off the last light - this way, parents won't have as many problems with getting children ready for school each morning either (making sure homework was completed, etc.) meaning less stress overall.
4. Keep screens out of bedrooms and in public areas only
When it comes to creating boundaries for your family, sometimes the best thing you can do is to just be consistent, ie. every member of the household knows where screens are allowed - and, more importantly, where they aren't!
For example, try not allowing children in their rooms with media devices because it has a tendency to "hard-wire" unhealthy habits (such as spending too much time inside by themselves).
Similarly, try to not allow them access to these things outside either unless there's some kind of adult supervision taking place.
That way, parents can trust that their children won't use screen time inappropriately when left unsupervised which also helps encourage kids learn how act responsibly around technology so everyone benefits overall.
5. Encourage children to play outside with friends, ride bikes, or go fishing
One of the best ways children can reduce their screen time is by setting up more opportunities to play outside with friends.
This especially helps parents because it makes it easier for them to trust that their kids aren't using screens when they go out, which means less stress on everyone involved!
When parents know there's another parent watching over what's happening, they won't have any reason to worry about anything bad occurring (such as getting into trouble at school or making a mess in other people's homes.)
On top of this, riding bikes and going fishing are two excellent examples of activities that encourage healthy habits without putting too much pressure on anyone either.
These types of outings will help keep families physically active while having fun - which means everyone benefits whilst having a great time together!
6. Provide opportunities for creative self-expression through art, music, dance, etc., instead of relying on the internet to entertain them
In terms of reducing screen time, it's also important to provide opportunities for creative self-expression. For example, a family that loves playing music together can set up a regular practice schedule, thus creating times each week where everyone is able to get in some quality instrument time!
It also means that parents don't have to worry about their kids spending too much time with screens either because they'll already be engaged doing something productive and fun at the same time.
In addition, providing spaces where children are encouraged to create art or dance freely will help them express themselves without feeling constrained by rules or rigid structures which often leads towards boredom faster than expected.
Making sure there are ample ways for families spend quality bonding time together instead focusing on devices makes all the difference in the world.
7. Use an alarm clock or timer for computer use
Using an alarm clock or timer is a great way to encourage children to use their computers in small bursts rather than longer blocks of time.
This is especially helpful because it lets kids know that they don't have access at any given moment and also helps them build better habits around how much computer time they're allowed per day, which means parents won't run into as many problems with getting homework completed on time.
8. Have kids help with household chores and errands so they can earn their screen time
One of the best ways parents can help reduce screen time is by having children participate in household chores and errands and having them earn their screen time.
This way, if there's not enough hours for another video game session, then it'll be easier to explain that to your child without creating an argument or fight about why they cannot play anymore because everyone will already understand what needs accomplished first.
It also helps encourage accountability at home which comes with learning responsibility too - this makes it easier for kids to set aside more time as well as stick with a routine long-term.
9. Make sure there are plenty of age-appropriate toys available for children to use instead of relying on digital devices
It's also important to make sure there are plenty of toys available for children to play with rather than relying on digital devices because this encourages healthy habits and will help reduce screen time as well.
This is especially true if families have access to their local library which means kids can borrow books from there to read at home!
This means parents don't have to worry about distractions either because everyone will be engaged in something that brings joy rather than being bored doing nothing all day long.
We hope you have found these practical tips to reduce screen time for children useful.
If you are looking for more information on this subject, check out our article about how screens affect the brain and explore our other articles on child development in general.
Thanks so much for reading!