Screen time has taken over family time all over the world. Gone are the days when playing outdoors was the thing to do after school. Today, playtime fun typically consists of a tablet, computer, or television screen in many families.
Though the time that children spend looking at a screen has doubled since 1995, it doesn’t have to be a lost cause. Screens may be a part of daily life in every family, but there are ways that parents can help limit exposure.
Establish a tech free zone. There should be certain areas of the home that parents declare as no-screen zones. This can include the family dinner table and the kid’s bedroom. It also helps to establish tech free times, such as right before bed and during family game night.
Set a timer and give warnings. Setting a timer to go off when screen time is up can be gentler than having parents tell kids to get off of their device. Set a kitchen timer or use a timer on the device so kids know when tech time is over. Give a warning when they’re getting close to end time, such as 10 minutes, so it doesn’t come unexpectedly.
Offer other options. Encourage a toddler to ride bikes, get your teen into the swimming pool, or just take the whole family outdoors for a walk. When you provide ideas on what else your family could be doing that’s just as fun, you’ll get them to put down the screen and connect with real life.
Set an example. It might be easier said than done, but take time to follow your own rules. Too much screen time for parents can be just as unhealthy. Take time to unplug and recharge your personal batteries to be at your best each day.