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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: 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.
photo credit: Tatyana Korotun / shutterstock.com
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!
photo credit preview photo: Morrowind / shutterstock.com – photo credit Pinterest photo: antos777 / shutterstock.com