Who else has had trouble sticking to their screen time goals? Us too.
We all know too much screen time can be harmful for adults and kids alike, prompting many of us to put time limits and other measures on our family’s screen time.
The thing is, while these limits for our kids benefit, it’s not always easy to stick with them.
Sure, the first couple of days might go well. Phones are kept in a box for the evening and there’s no devices in sight at the table.
But after a couple days, the kids' complaints are getting annoying, and you’re itching to reach for your phone yourself - things start to slip.
Before you know it, the whole family is back where they started- and that’s ok! You’re now in a better position to look at what went wrong, what went right and what you’d like to do differently.
With a new school term looming, now is a great opportunity to get your child’s screen time goals back on track.
Write down your goals
Before we start, it helps to get the family together and jot down all the ways reducing screen time will be beneficial. Simple things like “I want to spend more quality time together away from phones” or “I want to focus more and do better in school” are just a couple of examples.
If you or the kids find yourselves struggling with screen time limits down the track, you can come back to what you’ve written, remind yourselves why you started and get a bit of a motivation boost.
Cut down on screen time slowly
Banning screens outright is sure to cause a few tantrums and can cause bigger problems when implementing screen goals later.
Try cutting your child’s screen time by 10 to 15 minutes every few days until you’re at a level that’s more appropriate for them and their needs, especially on school nights.
They’ll likely not even notice the gradual shift, making the transition a little bit easier on everyone.
Schedule it in
Creating a screen time schedule ensures everyone knows what to expect and helps keep everyone accountable.
Getting the kids involved will help them understand how the schedule will work and how reducing screen time will benefit the whole family.
Letting kids have some input will help give them a sense of contribution and achievement when those screen free goals are met.
Some examples of what to put in your schedule could include:
- No screens in bedrooms.
- No phones or online games after 7pm.
- 30 minutes of online gaming during the week (but not right before bed).
- One night a week without screens.
Pop it on the fridge
We all know kids forget things, so having the screen rules or tech timetable on the fridge were everyone can see will make it a little easier for everyone to know what the rules are, without you having to remind them too much.
Have easily accessible alternatives on hand
It’s all well and good to have screen free evenings, especially during the week, but not having anything to replace the PlayStation or iPad with will make going screen free harder for kids (and you).
Create a list of activities for kids to do instead of scrolling like reading a book, writing a story or building something out of Lego.
Having a list of activity ideas on the fridge next to the screen free rules can help kids choose their own activity for the night, giving them a sense of control over the new rules.
Reducing screen time is hard work, but you’ll be well equipped to stick with it by reminding yourself that the benefits far outweigh any discomfort you might feel in the process.