How A Screen Routine Can Help Keep Screen Time Under Control

Setting screen time goals is all fun and games until we slip up and start feeling hopeless about the whole thing.

We’ve all had times where we’ve given in to kids asking for ten more minutes on the iPad or sat a toddler in front of the TV just to have a few moments to get something done.

It can be so easy to feel discouraged when things like this happen, but that’s ok!
The important thing is how you bounce back, and setting a screen routine is a simple way to help the whole family stay on track of their screen time.

Firstly, how much is too much screen time?
Some recommendations suggest primary school aged kids should be spending no more than 2 hours on recreational screen time per day.

Most kids exceed this guideline with only 15% of Australian kids sticking to the 2-hour limit.

Too much screen time has been linked to behavioural problems, depression and anxiety as well as negatively impacting self-esteem, making a screen routine all the more important.

What to include in a screen time routine.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to getting screen time under control, it helps to think about the times your child spends the most time on their screens.

For many families, most recreational screen time occurs between the kids getting home from school and going to bed.

Ask yourself what isn’t working for your family during these times and imagine how you would like this part of the day to look instead.

Tips for creating a screen routine

Let everyone have their input. Kids are more likely to follow along if they have a say in how things will go. For example, they might have a favourite show on Friday nights and as it’s not a school night you might all agree to half an hour extra screen time.
In this step make it clear that there will be consequences for breaking any rules set out in the routine.
No one likes consequences but making it clear to kids from the start that they might have their iPad taken away for a day will hopefully discourage them from breaking any rules.

Keep the rules brief and simple. Overly complicated rules all too often get thrown in the “too hard” basket. Things like “no screens during meals” or “devices can only be used in the living room” are clear and easy for kids to follow.

Have different routines for school days and weekends. It’s up to you how much time your kids spend on their devices, but having different routines for school days and weekends can help kids focus more during the week and enjoy a healthy amount of screen time on the weekends.

Enforce the rules. It’s inevitable that along the way some screen rules will be broken. When this happens, it can be easy to lose your cool, but this will only upset your child and frustrate you further. Try the following:

1. Remind your child of the consequences you all agreed on when setting the screen routine and give them one chance to put their laptop away or turn the TV off.
2. If they still aren’t listening, follow through with the consequence. This can be difficult, especially if they start yelling or crying, but stand your ground and remind yourself that this is for their own benefit.

Give yourself some grace. Change won’t happen overnight. You will have days that go better than others, rules will be broken and patience will be tested.
By allowing yourself space for these slip ups, you and your family get the opportunity to learn though mistakes and try again tomorrow.

Screen routines can be a wonderful way to make sure there’s a balance between screen and non-screen activities in your child’s day.

By sticking to the routine as best as you can, even if it’s not perfect, you and your family will start seeing the benefits of spending less time on screens.