Let’s be honest, for a while there we surrendered our children to the “virtual nanny”. After months of screen time with few if any limits, we are not loving the results. Last week we talked about some simple boundaries for all family members that would cut back the “where “ of screen time. Here are 5 more tricks to reign it in without starting a riot.
The idea here is that we are easing into reduced screen time, not going cold turkey. We want to consider what our kids could and even would be doing when they are on screen. What is it we are displacing and how can we get back to it?
This is a spin-off of last week’s post. The basic premise is that when we are in our private spaces, that’s where there is an opportunity to read, draw, write or even sleep. Another advantage of keeping screens in public spaces is it’s easier to monitor what kids are watching. Also, you can better track how long.
Not only do we want to avoid screen stimulation before bedtime, or at the dinner table, now we want to add in “no-tech times”. For example, for many human beings, mornings are the most creative and energetic times. Designate “no tech” from 9 am to noon for starters. Make sure that there are adequate alternative activities available. Of course, this won’t apply to virtual school. When there is school, perhaps n tech time is 3 pm to 6 pm?
Prioritize school and work time on screens over playtime. Work and school screens may be unavoidable, playtime is optional. Don’t forget to lead by example BTW. Play by the same rules as your kids. He will do as you do before they do as you say.
Have consistent screen rules and explain the why of them. Educate your kids on the virtues and problems of screens. Introduce them to alternatives and explain why real-life beats screen life every time.
Different families have different ways of managing time limits. One family, I work with hands their child a screen and tells them they can use it until it dies (no cord). This has lead to a lot of creativity on the kid’s part, discovering which programs suck the battery dry fastest and has led to less movie streaming and more games for example. Other families have strict hours of the day and/or time limits on screen use backed up by apps. What’s important is consistency. Time limits vary depending on child development and age of course.
You may want to ease in these rules, one eerie couple of weeks. Get your kids used to the first reduction than the next, then the next. Ease them out of the screen time habit. They will complain no matter what and you won’t regret it no matter what.