Limit Screen Time and Encourage Family Time | 5 Tips for Parents
For the modern family, technology is an essential part of learning, working, and day-to-day life. However, while the digital era has its benefits, it also comes with challenges.
How much screen time is too much screen time? How do we help our children limit screen time and find a balance between digital entertainment and family time? Technology isn’t the enemy. As parents, it’s our responsibility to teach and communicate with our children in positive ways while leading by example.
You can make an active effort to include more family interactions in you and your children’s daily lives. Here are some tips for placing limits on screen time and encouraging more family time in your home.
1. Be Realistic About Screen Time
You may not want your child glued to their device, but the truth is, not all screen time is bad for them. There are many tools at their disposal and preschool to primary school students can benefit tremendously from educational apps and programs designed for children.
This means you can work together to set limits, but they must be a reasonable. If your fifth grader uses their tablet for homework for about an hour every day, don’t limit their screen time to an hour. Give them the chance to have fun, too, within reason. Setting the limit to two hours for a child of this age may be a little more reasonable. Your children are more likely to stick to and respect screen time limits when they feel they’re being treated fairly.
2. Make Room for Digital-Free Time in Their Daily Routine
If you want to reduce screen time and increase family time, Dr. Jane Nelson of PositiveDiscipline.com suggests choosing a consistent daily activity that all members of the family can do together … free of your phones and tablets. For example, you can start with something as simple as eating dinner together.
If you agree on a digital-free space during mealtime, or an hour before bedtime, this consistent change will become a part of your family’s routine, and reliable routines are especially important to younger children because they provide a sense of security.
Take the time during your dinner to talk, or bring back bedtime stories with real books. Ask one another questions, and encourage your children to talk about their lives, their friends, and whatever else they may be interested in. This approach may feel awkward at first, but if you remain consistent, the whole family will discover how rewarding that time can be.
3. Use Technology with Your Children
There is an assumption that screen time is a solo activity, but you can enjoy screen time as a family. Look up educational games, watch videos with the kids, or listen to music together. Your children don’t need to zone out to enjoy their screen time and neither do you.
With technology at our fingertips, there are a lot of ways our children can learn through devices. The answer to limiting screen time isn’t always necessarily about the quantity of time as much as it is quality of time. With a little effort, screen time can be part of family time. The right mobile apps can even get you spending family time outdoors together.
4. Be Firm, but Kind
It’s important for your children not to feel as though you are forcefully banning their devices from their home life. This can trigger a backlash and lead to arguments instead of discussions. Maybe you’re convinced it’s time to lay down the law, but it’s better to have a dialogue about screen time.
Work on setting screen time limits with your children. Make sure your children know that you understand how much they enjoy their devices, and take the time to explain that setting screen time limits is not a punishment. Rather, it’s a way for your children to enjoy things they might be missing, including quality time with you, which they really do want.
Don’t waiver on your limits, but do find other fun family activities you can all enjoy. This will take the attention off the restrictions and focus on the fun you can have as a family. Encourage your children to help you make weekend plans, or suggest a game the whole family can play together once or twice a week.
5. Try the TechDen Screen Management Tool
The Den and the app work together to help families manage their screen time, using a positive approach that helps parents and children set limits as a family. Together, you can plan a regular screen time schedule. When screen time is over, their devices go into The Den. If devices are out of sight and out of mind, it allows your kids (and you) to enjoy other activities, including more family time. Find out more about how TechDen works.
When children and parents set up schedules and reward plans together, it encourages positive reactions. And, because they were involved, they’re more likely to stick to those screen time limits.
TechDen comes from parents just like you with the same concerns and challenges surrounding finding a balance between screen time and family time. Read our story to discover more about the inspiration behind this solution.