Let’s be real for a second… When it comes to kids and screen time today, it almost seems like they’re on their phones, computers, or other devices more often than they aren’t, and that seems crazy, right?
I remember growing up and having to spend my free time outside, reading, or hanging out with my friends or parents; we would go on vacations together, build things, and go on adventures. But in today’s world, connecting with our kids seems more difficult than it ever has been with new technological advances and smart devices that have our kids enamored with all-things digital.
And while I’m talking about giving ourselves as parents a digital detox so that we can find happiness in other facets of our lives on Episode 090 of the podcast this week, I wanted to take a little bit of time and speak to the rest of you parents and soon-to-be parents about taking steps to encourage your children to use their phones (or other screens) less in order to bond and make connections with you and their other loved ones more…
Because between my own kids who are growing taller and wiser and more independent each and every day, I totally understand how difficult the struggle with screen time can be!
So, let’s get started first with taking the first steps to limit your kids’ screen time usage.
Before we can expect our kids to do their chores, come home by curfew, or even put away their devices… It’s important that we as parents set firm limits for when those expectations kick into gear.
Just as you might set a curfew for your teenager, it’s imperative that you set a limit for how much screen time use you will allow your kids each day… particularly if you want their usage to decrease.
I might suggest disallowing access to phones during homework time, meal times, and other family activities… Or, setting a specific hour in the afternoon or evening when it’s time to “put the screens to bed” for the night and to find an alternative activity to do instead.
I encourage you to try it out with your own family and adjust as necessary… It won’t always be easy to limit screen time use depending on how much your kids need them for homework and the like, so remember to be flexible and keep trying until you find what works best for you and your family.
It’s easy to set limits for our kids… But, in my experience, those limitations only have a lasting effect when we also set them for ourselves, too.
In the case of screen time use, it’s important that we set a great example for our kids! While you create boundaries for your children, I encourage you to keep yourself in check, too. When it comes to meal times, family activities, or other occasions… Remember to get involved in your kids’ lives; give them your undivided attention when the work day has come to an end–let them know you’re present. Turn your phone on silent or vibrate and leave phone face-down during meal times and when you’re spending quality time together.
Now, I understand that setting boundaries and creating some rules for screen time—especially at the beginning—can be a little daunting, especially if you have one or two children that enjoy their computer time and that love to stay in touch with their friends via text. I hear you there!
Once limitations have been set (for your kids and for yourself), it’s always helpful to offer alternative activities in place of screen time. For that, I have just a few ideas to help with screen substitutions for older kids and for younger preschool-aged kids… Check them out below!
What are some of the ways that you encourage your children to get off of their phone and other devices when it really matters? Share your experiences and any tips you have in the comments below… And check out Episode 090 of Productivity Paradox where I’m diving into the idea of disconnecting in order to connect with those you love most.
PODCAST: Episode 090: Disconnecting When It’s Time to Connect
VIDEO: Digital Detox: 7 Easy Tips