We’ve all struggled to keep our kids busy or entertained at some point, especially during the last few years when many extracurriculars and family outings became harder to safely navigate. For many busy parents, technology provides a quick solution to a difficult problem. But with kids unable to socialize as they would have in the past, many have become overly dependent on screens for entertainment and comfort.
We know that too much screen time can negatively impact our physical and mental health, but once kids become accustomed to a certain amount of it, how can you reestablish healthy limits? Giving your child less screen time may initially seem like an impossible battle, but there are simple ways to start to cut back. Follow these tips to help your child find a healthier balance.
Lessening screen time for children
While screens can help facilitate learning and growing, too much of anything can have negative effects. Children exceeding the appropriate amount of screen time may struggle more with anxiety, depression, concentration and even sleep, which can cause even more complications. So, how do you approach reducing screen time for children in a healthy way? Here are some suggestions:
- Communicate why: Imposing strict rules without clearly explaining their significance or neglecting to involve children in a dialogue about expectations may backfire, causing them to rebel or lash out. Explain why there’s going to be a change and create space for them to express their feelings on the topic as well.
- Model healthy boundaries: In order for kids to change their technology engagement, it’s important that they see adults in their life modeling healthy boundaries around the use of electronics themselves. Reduce the amount of time you’re bingeing TV shows, scrolling on Instagram or watching TikTok. Be sure to follow the parameters you want your kids to follow.
- Establish time to unplug as a family: If you’re just getting started and already feeling daunted, pick a few common times to unplug from technology together. This could look like removing technology while preparing and eating meals, or setting phones down for an hour while enjoying a shared hobby. Find small ways to cut back together.
- Set realistic goals: If your children are spending far more than the recommended limits on technology, dramatically changing their routines and available coping mechanisms may not be a reasonable goal. Instead, start slowly and work on developing alternative hobbies and relaxation activities as you reduce screen time.
- Make bedtime a screen-free time: Countless studies have shown the negative relationship between screen time and sleep, so make sure to include bedtime in your tech-free schedule. Remove technology an hour before bed and through the night—prioritizing sound sleep is in everyone’s best interest.
While it may seem impossible to give your child less screen time at the outset of such a major change, it is well within your abilities to change your family’s relationship to technology and help build up healthier, more balanced coping mechanisms for your children. If you’re looking to fill free time with interactive, educational fun for children up to nine years old, visit Kids Kingdom Early Learning Center online to learn about how we can help your child learn and grow.