Screen time is a parenting topic I have carefully avoided. I guess it’s because as a person I love TV shows (Netflix binge anyone?), I need the computer to work and once upon a time I was pretty good at video games. As a parent though, I have an entirely different perspective.
The screens have a tendency to be a place of tension and uneasy feelings for me. I find myself second guessing the decisions I’ve made, feeling bad after a screen time period has run longer than I expected and getting snappy about anything with a screen.
Screen time should be fun! I don’t want it to be a constant battle.
We will never be a no screen time family. I can see the benefits of getting rid of it all together but for us, I think a limited schedule works.
Once the screen time rules are in place, I can relax and screen time becomes so much more fun for everyone!
How to Limit Screen Time – Why, How To, and What Now
The Benefits of Limited Screen Time for Kids
- When the screens go off the chance to create is available. With my own kids I find that once the option of screen time has been eliminated they have no problem finding something creative, fun and hands on to do.
- Limiting screen time makes it easier to monitor what your kids are actually watching and playing.
- When it’s limited, screen time becomes an effective aid. If I need to make a phone call or take a shower (hee hee) I know that they will sit still and watch. That probably wouldn’t be true if it was on all day.
- Chatting, connecting and really listening is so much easier with no back ground noise.
Setting up a Screen Time for Kids Schedule
- Figure out which screens you will include. At our house screen time covers TV, video games, and computer time.
- Reach an agreement before you make a rule. With your spouse… not with the kids. 😉 Even if you don’t have exactly the same ideas for how much screen time is appropriate, finding a middle ground will help make the transition easier on everyone.
- Be consistent but not rigid. There will be days that the TV will stay on too long or a new video game will make stopping so hard. Once you’ve been limiting screen time for a while having “treat” days won’t be too big of a deal. Just make sure to get back into the set routine as quickly as possible.
- Use a system like KoalaSafe (a parental control router) to monitor what your kids are spending their screen time doing. KoalaSafe is a box that creates a new WIFI network at home for kids. Your phone then becomes the controls panel for your kids network, enabling time and content control, as well as surfacing usage analytics data. (affiliate link)
What to do Now That the Screen is Off
- Remember that screen time is at best a habit and at worst an addiction. When you first start limiting screen time, you will probably find yourself in the middle of a few battles. Be patient and try to understand where your kids are coming from.
- What to do? Ah, so glad you asked. 🙂 Play dress up, read some books or get moving.
- Do nothing. Once the option is taken away… wait and see what fun things the kids come up with on their own.
Do you limit screen time? What tips and tricks can you share? Let me know how it goes if you try something new!
I re-posted this post on how to limit screen time for kids because I needed to read it. (It originally appeared October 20, 2012).