5 Tips to Reduce Screen Time
1. Set appropriate boundaries. Make it clear when screen time is and is not appropriate, ideally as part of your daily routine and schedule. Use 'Screen Time' or 'Parental Control' limits to help kids who need the extra oversight (which, to be honest, is most of us, adults included!). In the most extreme examples, parents have turned off their Internet entirely for portions of the day. Choose to have no screens in the bedroom, at meal times, and/or in the car. Here are the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines about how much screen time is appropriate:
2. Understand what your kids are actually doing while plugged in. Screen time is not binarily good or bad - talk to your kids about what they do all day on their tablets, phones and laptops, and try to differentiate your guidelines. Also pay attention to your children's emotions after various types of screen time, and use that as a guide.
3. Set a good example. If you are always checking your phone, that is what you are modeling to your kids. Try to limit your own screen time, chunking activities together and leaving the phone aside for large periods of time. We call this 'electronic lock down mode' in our home!
4. Encourage healthy replacements. Many children are use to less limits at home, as parents rely on school and extracurriculars to force disengagement for a large chunk of the day. With kids home all day long at the moment, it can be very helpful to suggest other downtime activities until kids get used to picking them on their own. This document not only includes lots of sample routines, schedules, and resources...but also many suggested free time activities.
5. As with all behavioral habits, good screen time habits require discipline. It is not enough to set ground rules; there must be agreed upon and enforced consequences. Sit down and write these together with your kids, as that way you will have more buy-in on their part, and a better understanding of the new rules.