It’s no secret that these days our lives are filled with smartphones, computers, tablets, and television. In fact, at any given moment, there’s probably at least two or three technological devices in the same room as you. The question then becomes how do we help teach our kids the importance of being away from the screen, encourage in person relationships, and encourage creative play? Too much screen time has been linked to obesity in children as well as disrupting sleep patterns and in some cases behavioral problems, so as parents, it’s essential that we teach them healthy habits starting young.
ROUTINE AND RULES
Having a routine is a great way to start off with limiting kids screen time. An hour per day on a school day or 3 hours on a weekend day is what most experts recommend as a standard for how much screen time your child should have. Setting the routine with things such as expected mealtimes, naps, screen time and any extracurricular activities is a no brainer but adding in time for learning and creative play is a great way to help your child become more imaginative and independent. Maybe having specific times for things just won’t do with your busy schedule and that’s totally okay! This is where general rules about screens can come into effect. Whether it’s a specified time limit per day or if they need to earn screen time, do what works best for you! Once you have established a routine or rules, then you can determine consequences for not abiding by the set standard. While it may not eliminate it completely, you’ll find that there is a lot less whining and complaining because you’ve already set expectations.
Family dinner around the table is another great way to reduce screen time. Though many people love eating in front of the TV, you’ll find if you have a set dinner time without the noise and distraction it will be easier to interact and you’ll find more things to talk about with your kids. Engage them by finding different questions to ask other than, “how was your day?” Ask specific questions such as what was your favorite part of the day or maybe what made you laugh today? Or practicing an attitude of gratitude is always helpful. Have everyone go around the table and tell something that made them smile and why they’re grateful for it. This is a fun family tradition for dinnertime. You’ll find as you ask these questions, conversation will flow more naturally.
With summer in full swing, take advantage of all the fun, non-screen activities that are available. Last week we posted a blog about Fun Out of the Box Activities. Click here to check it out to get some fun ideas of things kids can do that don’t involve screens.