How To Limit Screen Time For Kids

Screen time is becoming an increasing problem in children. Studies have shown that screen time can affect brain development. Screen time also has the ability to become addictive quickly. 

How can we help our children regulate the amount of screen time per day that they have?

This issue became a problem in my own home when my oldest son began showing issues related to screen time. I tried my best to limit screens and devices from coming into my house. The problem I faced was family members, who meant well, gifted my son these items. These items are expensive so I felt guilty letting them go to waste. I kept them when I should have asked family members politely to return them.

 If you do not wish to allow screen time in your own home it’s best that you let family and friends know your intentions. They may not agree with you but hopefully, they’ll respect your choices. Sometimes, like in my situation, they simply don’t and that is when you need to set boundaries.

If you already have a screen in the house and are now looking to limit screen time here are a few tips to help you. You can also download my free guide “When Screen Time Is A Problem”.

Hold A Family Meeting

Explain to your family, especially the children, what you want to do and why. When I explained to my son why I wanted to restrict screen time he was much more receptive to it. While we both agreed that it would be a hard thing to do especially for him, we committed to being a screen lite family.

Don’t treat your children like they won’t understand. Children are smarter than we often give them credit for. If you explain what studies show in a simplified way, you help them understand the reason. Nobody likes to be told not to do something without a good reason.

Create A Screen System

In my house, we have a screen system. When one of my children wants to have some screen time they give me a ticket for 30 minutes of screen time. We then set a timer together.

This puts them in charge of when they get screen time. We acknowledge together that they have a set time of thirty minutes to play. There are also several things that must be done before any screen time, like school and chores.

 They each have one ticket per day. They also have a limited number of screen activities that I will allow. For instance, my children are allowed to watch one of five shows or play Minecraft.

It might seem strict but limiting their choices helps them to make their choice easier. It also eliminates arguments about what they may do when it’s clear what they’re allowed.

Don’t Overdue Screens Yourself

 If you intend to limit screen time for your children don’t let them catch you on your screens all day. Set a good example by staying off social media, or out in front of the television.

If you work from home and use a screen, make sure to discuss that with your children. Make that part of your family meeting and create rules around that as well. Screens for work are so common and it’s easy for children to see that as a way you are unfairly getting more screen time so make sure you address that with them. Share with them that it is for work in the same way they might use a screen for school.

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Start New Screen Free Hobbies

Help your children keep their minds off their screens by starting new hobbies. One of my children, for instance, collects rocks while another one of my children likes to read. These hobbies can help children keep their minds off screens.

What if your children don’t have any hobbies? What do you do to help keep them entertained? The answer is you need to find some new hobbies yourself.

This may mean starting a new activity like gardening with your children or perhaps you start reading aloud to your children. You might even try board games or a family meal night where you all cook together.  The important thing is keeping your children occupied and having fun while making meaningful connections.

Read Books To Empower Your Screen-Limiting Journey

 I highly recommend you read at least one book called Reset Your Child’s Brain: A 4-week Plan.  This book helped me tremendously when I was trying to break my oldest son’s screen habit. 

Screens are unfortunately linked to mental health issues with our children. While I don’t think that the total lack of screens is an answer I think we need to strive to keep children balanced.

Setting healthy boundaries for children when it comes to electronic devices is a smart sustainable solution. Evaluate your own family’s goals and values to see what screen time limits you’d like to set.

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