For parents of a certain age, you probably had an “analog” childhood compared to the digital world today’s kids are growing up in. We’re constantly being told how important it is to limit screen time for both kids and adults, yet it’s much easier said than done to actually follow through. We’re all a little bit addicted to our technology, whether it’s your kid’s Switch or your own smartphone. Fortunately, there are ways to limit kids’ screen time without earning yourself the title of Most Hated Parent.
How to Limit Screen Time in Your Household
Provide fun alternatives.
The very best way to unglue your kids from their screens is not to nag, cajole, or threaten. Instead, provide alternatives that are so fun and enjoyable that your kids willingly choose them. There are many ways to do this, including:
- Going outside. Pixels pale in comparison to the beauty and adventure of nature, and spending more time outside will naturally reduce the amount of time your family spends staring at screens. Visit your local park for a hike or nature walk, roller skate or ride bikes together, or even just take the dog on a walk around the block.
- Making space for IRL fun. (That’s “in real life” for those who aren’t fluent in internet-speak.) Think about ways you can rearrange your home for maximum unplugged fun. If you have room, set up a gaming area with board games, puzzles, a flat surface like a coffee table, and some comfortable seating. You can tailor this “rec room” area to whatever your family is into—arts and crafts, musical instruments, gardening, reading.
- Speaking of rec rooms, why not add some fun features like a ping pong table, pool table, dart set, air hockey, etc. to your home? These items can be pricey, but if you keep an eye out on Facebook marketplace or your local thrift shop, you may be able to score a good deal!
Lead by example.
One of the most annoying aspects of parenting is the fact that kids are always watching, listening, and learning from the adults around them… Even when you’d rather they didn’t. As any parent who’s ever slipped up and used some “choice words” in front of their kids knows all too well, they’re going to do as you do, not as you say.
One of the most effective ways to get your kids to unplug is to do so yourself first. When they see how much you’re enjoying reading an actual book, gardening, doing yoga, or whatever offline activities you enjoy, they’re more likely to put their own tech down and join in… Or at least find their own offline fun.
Focus on quality, not quantity.
Finally, don’t get so hung up on the time your kids are clocking with screens, and instead, focus on quality over quantity. According to some researchers, the supposed dangers of screen time are less relevant than how that time is used. Are your kids using tech to watch or play educational content? Are they getting some much-needed social interaction via Animal Crossing, FaceTiming with their friends, etc.? If you’re aware of what they’re consuming and are helping them make good choices, and their screen time isn’t interfering with family time, sleep, or physical activity, it’s all good!