How many hours per day do your kids spend looking at some sort of screen? According to Childwise, the average kid spends over 6 hours per day on a device!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen time for kids should be limited to 2 hours a day, at the most. ‘Screen time' means television, movies, phones, computers, video games, and internet/YouTube.
Children who have more than two hours of screen time a day are more likely to be overweight and suffer from irregular sleep patterns. There are also concerns regarding eye strain, aggression, mood, and displacement of healthier activities.
Adults and kids, alike, use devices of all types (tv, video games, computers, Chromebooks, iPads and other tablets, phones, and more) almost around the clock now. Schools even use them!
Thus, it's important to monitor how much time your kids spend looking at a device and determine screen time alternatives at home.
How can parents limit screen time for the kids? Here is our list of limiting screen time tips and screen time alternatives – Fall edition!
Set Clear Limits
This is most effective when you spell out clearly when and where family members can use devices. Decide on media-free zones: areas where your family does not use technology. Also indicate media-free times: times of the day when the kids (or family) do not use technology.
Create a Family Media Plan to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding media-free zones and media times. This Family Media Plan is easy to set up and covers great topics to discuss!
For example, in our own Family Media Plan, we have said that we do not allow devices at the dinner table or in our kids' rooms after bedtime.
Need a Fabulous Mental Challenge & Screen Time Alternative?
Grab our Autumn Activity Packet and watch your kids be entertained for hours by the puzzles, math problems, creative writing and more!
Teach Kids to Prioritize
Kids need to learn how to prioritize what's really important over what they want to do. It's a skill that takes time to learn, and parents are instrumental in teaching that skill.
In our home, we do not allow device time for our kids (ages 11, 9, 8 years) until they complete everything that needs to get done.
That means that on a school day, there is no screen time until they complete their after school action-item lists. These lists include completing homework, finishing chores, a little free-play time (preferably outside), dinner, going to any sports or activities, and showers.
All of those activities are way more important than screen time, in our opinion, so we hold firm. And, yes, that does mean that the kids don't have screen time at home on some days. But keep in mind that all 3 of them get screen time at school.
However, this policy usually does allow for a little fun screen time before bed – usually between 30 and 60 minutes. We put a hard stop on all devices at bedtime.
Enforce the Rules
Broken rules necessitate consequences — like repossession.
We have tried many different methods of implementing consequences (reducing allowed time, using parenting controls, and more). However, the most effective method has been to take physical possession of all devices at bedtime.
The kids give us their devices each evening to charge overnight. We have the charging dock in our own bedroom so we can monitor and make sure the devices are secure.
Many kids now use their phones and devices as alarms. We have avoided that conflict by purchasing simple, inexpensive clock alarms for each kid's room.
I consider myself to be a person of moderation. I believe that things are best in moderation. And while that does also apply to screen time, I have learned that limits need to be in place to ensure moderation. My kids do not necessarily operate in moderation, so I have to teach them.
Screens are more a part of life now than most people would have dreamed just a few short years ago. When we were kids, this wasn't an issue!
My mom will often say that she's glad she didn't have to parent during the time of iPads and smartphones.
However, our kids are surrounded by more technology than we could have ever imagined.
That makes it my job to teach my kids how to utilize technology in a healthy way while instilling habits for properly managing their screen time.
My goal is to help them with this now rather than leaving them at a disadvantage as adults.
Have a Plan
Sadly, watching TV and playing video games are the most common after-school activities for most kids.
Kids will often watch television when they have nothing to do. If left in their hands, my kids will not be able to think of something to do. So I have to give them something to do!
Help your family come up with activities that you can do any time you can’t think of anything to do but watch TV.
Create a top 10 list of activities and post the list in a place where everyone can see it. Ideas include puzzles, playing catch, bike riding, playing basketball in the driveway, playing with neighbor kids, walking the dog, etc.
We have created a routine in our house to promote both mental challenge and physical health.
Each day our kids need to complete the following things: sit-ups, push-ups, running a pre-determined route in the neighborhood, and mental challenge activities.
Creating your Family Media Plan will help cover all these bases so that the entire family is on the same page!
By limiting our kids' screen time, we are doing our best, as parents, to ensure that they learn overall healthy lifestyle habits.
Providing screen time alternatives in the form of boundaries and other preferred activities helps our kids to learn healthy habits and prioritize what is necessary over what is desired.
Need Help Coming up with a Plan?
Believe me, I understand! I can't even tell you how many times I have heard “Mom, I'm bored…can I watch tv?” or “I don't have anything to do, can I play on the Playstation?”. I couldn't stand it any longer!
(By the way, Nicole and I are like 2 peas in a pod. As a mom of 4, she knows even more about “Mom I'm bored” than I do! If you haven't checked out her fantastic blog, do it!)
We wanted to create something unique. Something you can't buy in stores. A product that's effective and fun – that kids want to do.
I am so excited about how this project came together! We wanted to give you an incredible tool to help make your life easier and provide exceptional value. I think the final result even blew us away and smashed our own expectations!
We designed this packet for kids 6-9 years old. However, we know kids from 5-13 that have enjoyed doing these activities (including my own 11 year old).
And my favorite part is that while my kids are engaged, learning AND having fun, (they even work together on these activities and games – when does that happen?!) I'm finally able to tackle my own huge to-do list!
Make our Autumn Activity Packet part of your reduced screen time plan!
This packet is 40 pages chock-full of a huge variety of activities – every kid is sure to find things they enjoy. Use it to keep them busy for hours so you can get something done!
Tell us in the comments: do you currently limit screen time for you or your kids?