Do you ever think about the amount of time your family spends on screened devices and find yourself worried about what the consequences of always having little eyes glued to a screen will end up being?
You are not alone in this and many families struggle to find a balance between modern technology and setting healthy limits on screen time.
A great way to deal with this is to slowly reduce screen time for your family.
What are the benefits of reducing screen time?
Screens have been proven to be bad for our health. They are addictive and the blue light they produce can make it hard to sleep further compounding issues like ADHD that can be worsened by overuse of screened devices.
When we reduce screen time, and more importantly our children’s screen time, we allow our minds to heal from the anxiety over stimulus can cause, improve sleep, and reduce eyestrain.
Reducing screen time can help kids find a balance between screens and real-life allowing them to function better and get more done.
Screens can make it difficult for kids to keep track of time and complete tasks they have been asked to perform with such an easy distraction readily available at their fingertips.
Screens often lead to other behavioral issues like fighting between siblings that can become a major issue for families. When you reduce screen time kids are more likely to reconnect and learn to get along again due to having more quality time.
How to gently reduce screen time
Start slowly to gently reduce your child’s screen time. While it can be nice to go cold turkey for a detox with plenty of planning most families do not have the time to do a full-screen detox and instead can benefit from a slow reduction of screen time that is less noticeable to children.
When you reduce screen time replace it with something else to help keep their minds off the screen and boost their serotonin levels.
Set boundaries on where screens can go
A gentle way to start reducing screen time is to simply set boundaries on where your child can have devices. Teaching your child to put devices away at dinner or to keep their device out of the bathroom to prevent the spread of germs can quickly reduce your child’s screen time without much change to their everyday life.
Start slowly with something like keeping a basket away from the table for all devices to go into at dinner time so the whole family can enjoy some quality time
Give your child distractions that take them away from screens
Offering your child distractions that take them away from the screen can go a long way. Stocking your home with books, incorporating art in your homeschool, and even baking supplies can offer your child a large range of ways to keep busy and follow interests away from devices.
Plan plenty of time for your child to get up and get outside to help make it easier to walk away from screens. Offering bikes, sports equipment, and other outdoor items can help give your child something to focus on outside away from screens.
A great trick for hot summer days is to set up a reading area in a shady spot to allow your child to grab an old-fashioned paper book and relax with a cold drink.
Plan quality family time away from screens
When you want to get your kids to reduce their screen time you need to keep them busy and their minds off of their screens.
Planning a family game night, going to the park, or planning a cookout in the backyard and leaving devices away from everyone is a great way to get your kids away from screens without listening to them complain because they will already be having fun and enjoying themselves.
Keeping a stock of board games like Scrabble, Jenga, and Guess Who? on hand is a great way to have a quick and easy way to get the screens put up and the family having fun when you notice a screen break is needed.
Set an example for your child
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to set an example for your child with your own behavior.
Make a point to allow your child to see you set aside your devices and focus on other things whether it be quality time with them, read, or get important things checked off your to-do list.
The more time your kids see you off of your devices the more willing they will be to put theirs down without a fight. Kids tend to follow what they see rather than what they are told to do.
How can I do a screen time detox for my family?
Sometimes the addition to screens is too severe to slowly reduce screen time and the whole family needs a bit of a screen detox to help adjust to not having a screen in front of them all day long.
If you decide as a family to do a full detox for a day or two to help reduce your dependency on devices, plan ahead to ensure you have plenty of fun activities to keep everyone busy and distracted from not having their devices. As long as everyone is busy this can usually go smoothly for a day or so.
Another option for a screen detox is to pack the family up and go on a camping trip where electricity and WiFi are not an option. This is a great way to make memories with your kids and because your devices do not work while camping your family will have an easier time not picking them up out of habit.
What should I do if my child fights reduced screen time?
It is normal for kids to fight change and because of the addictive nature of screened devices that play on your child’s natural serotonin production, it is expected to have some bumps in the road.
When your child fights reduced screen time use the diversion trick. When your child gets fussy over limitations give them another screen-free activity to do to keep them busy. Asking them to help you with something is a great way to do this.
Carrie is the owner & operator of Homeschool Giveaways. She has been homeschooling for over a decade and has successfully graduated her first homeschooler. She has two girls and works side by side at home with her awesome husband. She has been saved by grace, fails daily, but continues to strive toward the prize of the high calling of being a daughter of the Most High God.