how to reduce screen time

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Inside: If you are looking for easy and practical ideas on how to reduce screen time for kids, here is a step-by-step plan to help you encourage your children to spend less time in front of screens.

Sometimes it seems that screens are the only solution for getting some quiet time or being able to do some work around the house. And finding solutions about how to reduce screen time is not so easy!

This is why I decided to gather here some ideas that could help you reduce screen time for your kids or even to eliminate it completely.

While my son was a preschooler I tried to reduce his screen time as much as possible because there were a lot of other activities that were much more beneficial for his development.

how to reduce screen time

How to reduce screen time: The first steps

If your child is used to a lot of screen time every day it could be difficult to make a drastic change immediately.

So the best way to start is to reduce the time spent in front of screens and improve the quality of the programs.

In my opinion, watching TV is the worst form of screen time. There are a lot of inappropriate programs on the TV and there are usually accompanied by lots of commercials.

1. Find better alternatives for screen time

If you don’t want to eliminate screen time completely, here are some easy changes that can have a great impact on the child:

replacing the time spent watching cartoons on TV with time spent watching animation movies on DVDs

The difference is that you have full control over the content and you can easily monitor the time spent in front of the screen. (example: if the child is allowed to watch a short movie on DVD per day, it’s easier for the parent to end the screen time when the DVD ends instead of ending it when the child watches a cartoon program)

replacing the time spent watching movies on Youtube with time spent using a learning app

The movies on Youtube are a popular choice for a lot of parents, but they have some big disadvantages like the lack of control and the commercials.

Also, the time spent on Youtube is a passive time because the child only watches movies without being engaged in any way. A better alternative is purchasing high-quality educational apps that engage the child in learning activities.

2. Reduce screen time gradually

Replacing TV time or Youtube time with better alternatives is the first step, but using better options doesn’t mean the child should spend hours in front of the screen. So the next step is gradually reducing screen time.

The best part about this is that once you reduce screen time you will start noticing the benefits and be more motivated to keep going.

You can even make a schedule with your child and decide together how much screen time is allowed every day.

For example, if your child is having now 3 hours of screen time daily you can gradually reduce it to two hours, then only one hour and so on, following a schedule you agree in advance.

Because most of the arguing and crying is related to the moment when the child must end the screen time, you can set together an alarm on your phone to let you both know when time is over.

(Example: if you want to allow your child 30 minutes on the tablet, you can set an alarm after 25 minutes. When the alarm rings you inform the child that he only has 5 minutes left and you snooze the alarm. When the alarm rings again it’s time to end the screen time.)

Enforcing rules can be difficult at the beginning, but if you stay calm and consistent, it gets a lot easier in time.

Next steps: How to reduce screen time for long-term and what to do instead

To really make a change is essential to know how to reduce screen time in the long run and how to adjust the daily schedule to this change.

how to reduce screen time

photo credit: Tatyana Korotun /

I read a lot of articles about reducing screen time, but they were all focused on activities that parents can do with children instead of letting them watch TV. From my point of view, the problem is not that the parents don’t know what other activities to do, but that they need some time for doing chores or resting, so play ideas aren’t really helpful.

This is why I decided to show you a different approach on how you can reduce or eliminate screen time and still be able to do chores or have some quiet moments.

– Involve the kids in all the chores

It may seem very difficult at the beginning, especially if the child is not used to it, but I can assure you from our own experience that it’s possible to involve even young kids in daily chores. Sometimes they aren’t really able to help, but at least you can keep them busy giving them some tasks and allowing them to be part of everything you do.

Example: When you cook you can ask your child to help you with some simple tasks like giving you ingredients, mixing them, washing dishes. If you have a young child who cannot help very much you can just make a dough from water and flour and allow him to play with it on the kitchen table while you cook.

– Be a role model

Many of us are telling our kids about the negative impact of too much screen time, but we spend several hours daily in front of our phone, TV or laptop.

One good idea for reducing screen time in your home is to make a common effort for all family members to reduce the time they spend in front of screens. The kids will certainly be happy to have more quality time with mom and dad and setting this example will certainly motivate them too.

– Use audiobooks instead of screen time

One of the most useful ideas for reducing screen time is to use audio-books with stories for children.

They don’t have the negative effects of screens but still can keep the kids engaged for a long time.

If you don’t want to spend money on audiobooks, you can borrow them from the library. This way you can have new audiobooks every week for free.

– Use special activities instead of screen time

The main rule of “special activities” is that they are not available for the child on a regular basis. This makes them more interesting and allows kids to focus more on them when they get the chance to have them.

To implement “special activities” you need some special boxes that you’ll only give to your child in the moments when they previously had screen time.

These activities are far more beneficial than screen time.

And you only need to prepare them once and then use them anytime you need.

1. The quiet time box – This box contains toys, books or activities that your child likes. (I use often activity books, stickers, puzzles, and little games.)

2. The sensory tray – This box contains a sensory activity. Depending on your child’s age you can find a lot of great ideas on Pinterest.

3. The special Lego time – Almost all kids like Legos, so your child probably does too. If so, you can choose a special Lego set, put it in a separate box and offer it to your child instead of screen time.

4. The kinetic sand box – Another idea that can keep kids busy for a long time is a box full of kinetic sand and some tools for it.

I hope that all these ideas will help you find ways to reduce screen time and make the positive change you want for your kids!

If you have any other ideas, I would be glad to find them out and add them to the list!

>> Want to remember this? Save these ideas to your favorite Pinterest board!

How to reduce screen time for kids and what to do instead: Screen time alternatives for kids that you can implement right away --- Parenting tips
How to reduce screen time for kids and what to do instead: Screen time alternatives for kids and nice ideas to try instead of letting kids watch TV or use tablets

photo credit preview photo: Morrowind / – photo credit Pinterest photo: antos777 /

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  1. My son is an adult now but he was only allowed to watch television for a few hours on weekends. He did n’t even miss it because we kept him busy with other activities.

  2. Great tips! We try to limit screen time but it can be difficult sometimes.

  3. I just kick my daughter outside lol. Not really, but she loves to be outside so she spends a lot of her day there. And I do have her help me with chores. She may not be very good, but she is learning.

  4. Thanks for the good ideas. I will put some of them to use with my grandson:-)

  5. “the problem is not that the parents don’t know what other activities they can do, but that they need some time for doing chores or resting, so some play ideas aren’t really helpful.” Exactly! So glad to see that acknowledged. Legos keep my grands entertained for a long time.

  6. Great tips. We only do 1-2 episodes of her tv show that is on Netflix. This has no commercials and the episodes are under 30 minutes for a show.

  7. These are such great suggestions for non-screen time activities. My nephew gets quite a lot of screen time so I’ll be sending this post to my sister for sure! It’s nice to have some ideas on what I can do with him when I visit!

  8. Excellent ideas to get kids from the ‘boob tube’!

  9. I should probably reduce screen time but to be honest, I don’t do it that often. My kids are still active enough so I don’t worry about it much.

  10. Good suggestions! I try to limit my kids screen time by not having cable or anything like that. Instead, we have DVDs, Netflix and Amazon Prime. This way, I can say they get one show or two shows and then they are done and I know exactly what they’ve been watching. Most of their favorite shows are education anyways so that helps me feel better about allowing them screen time.

  11. These are great tips! I don’t have kids yet but I’ll sure pass this advice to my momma friends.

  12. I love this! I try and be on top of screen time, but sometimes life gets the best of me and I give in. I do like the idea of putting on a DVD or something that gives me full control of what it is they’re watching!

  13. Great timing, I’ve been thinking about screen time! My 17 month old doesn’t care to watch tv or videos for too long but I know he will want to soon enough. I love your suggestions for other activities to do instead.

  14. Andrea Broom says:

    My mom totally applied this when I was young to me and my brother.

  15. This is great. I’m amazed by how many people allow their kids what seems to be unlimited screen time.

  16. These are all very great tips! I’m so glad I grew up in a time we preferred to play outside.

  17. Great tips. My son is 4. He’s not into tv that much thankfully but I can see that changing in the future. I’m gonna try to get him to enjoy alternative activities as much as possible.

  18. blair villanueva says:

    This might be sound silly but, telling a kid that your TV is current not working is also an effective method. Or there is no electricity for that time.
    It works on my little sister, until she did care with TV at all 🙂

  19. Love this with 3 kids its always a struggle to get off the electronics. We are huge fans of productive things too like audio books ! Super list and some new things I will have to try!

  20. Great blog. My brother and his wife limits TV to only the weekends and they get about two hours. They prefer them reading or playing outside

  21. These are incredible ideas! We have struggled in our house with our teen son being an avid gamer. The struggle is real and thanks for sharing these very doable tips

  22. I love the kinetic sand box! I’m pretty obsessed with kinetic sand as an adult too! I watched a video somewhere of how to make the kinetic sand instead of buying it – thought that was a neat way to occupy kids!

  23. I don’t like my children watching too much television either. There are so many more productive things to do, so we usually redirect them if they’ve been staring at a screen for a while.