If you're a parent with kids living in the digital world, there's a good chance you've thought long and hard about screen time. You may have even resolved in the new year to create healthier screen time habits for your whole family. If you want to reduce screen time for your kids in 2020, the following tips can help. These guidelines can help set your kids up for a healthy, happy, screen-free new year.
1. Set Hard Limits
Experts say that kids should never have more than 1.5 hours of screen time per day on school days. Make a screen time limit that is less than this, and always stick to it. Kids will start to use their imagination and come up with ideas about how to spend their time on their own once they're used to having a regular amount of free hours without screens.
2. Use Screen Time as a Reward
Allow your kids to watch their screens only if they have completed a list of tasks they are required to. This means their homework should be finished and chores done before they can have their screens. In the new year, you can make screens feel special, rare, and prized, rather than a normal part of the daily routine.
3. Give Your Kids Some Say
Instead of completely dictating when your kids can use screens, allow them to have some say in the matter. This will make them feel like they have some agency, and not like your decision is a punishment. You can choose how much screen time they are allowed, but then offer them some options about it: do they want to watch before dinner or after dinner; do they want to have screen time on the weekends or weekdays; etc. This is a good way to help kids get on board with the idea of limited screen time.
4. Plan More Activities
During your kids' downtime, take some time to plan some activities. It's easy for your kids (or you) to default to screen time when there are no other ideas about what to do. Schedule outdoor playtime and leave the screens at home, or schedule playdates with friends so your kids will be occupied. You can also check out this list of screen-free activities for some inspiration.
5. Be the Model
Kids are likely to model parents' behavior. So, if you want to limit screen time for your kids, make sure you limit your own. Try to spend time at home reading, doing puzzles, interacting with other family members, or doing other activities that don't involve electronics.
6. Use Apps to Limit Screen Time
Concretely, you can rely on apps and software to help you limit screen time. Programs like ScreenTime allow you to set hard limits on your chid's devices so they can't use them longer than allowed.
7. Focus on Family Meals
Make family meals a time when screens are off and everyone is focused on eating and interacting with each other. Studies shows that the majority of families eat dinner with the TV on. Break the cycle and make meals a time that is always screen-less. Research has shown that meals without screens not only result in better relationships, but also in lower risk of obesity and healthier diet choices.
One way to get your kid off their screen? Interact with them. Spend free time at home talking, playing games, reading, and more. Kids will feel occupied and entertained when you are spending time with them and providing them with attention. This is a natural way to get their focus off of screens.
9. Designate Screen-Free Areas of the Home
Help make screen-free time easier by making rules about where screens can be used in the house and where they cannot be. This means that there should be no televisons, computers, etc. in the places you have designated as screen free space. Removing screens from the space completely will make it easier for your child to spend screen-free time while they are there.
10. Partner with Friends
Talk to family friends and parents of your child's friends. Make a screen-free playtime agreement, and arrange regular playdates with these friends. Kids will find it exciting to spend time with friends, and if all kids and parents are on the same screen-free plan, screen-free play time will feel easy and natural.
If you want more ideas for ways you can help to improve your child's cognitive development and improve attention and focus, reach out to Brain Balance Achievement Centers. Our experts can help pinpoint where your child struggles, then offer tips and techniques to help them improve. We can also give you ideas for alternatives to screen time tailored to your child, so your entire family can enjoy a stress-free and screen-free new year.
For over a decade, we’ve helped over 40,000 children improve the critical skills needed to create a brighter path for their future. Our team can help determine why your child struggles, then help equip them to better handle their own challenges, so they can enjoy and thrive in family gatherings, classrooms, social events, and more.