Today’s kids are tech-savvy. Sometimes it seems like it’s almost impossible to raise kids without allowing them access to technology. And not that you shouldn’t do that.
But, setting a limit and routine for your children’s screen time has become a MUST. Kids can become so addicted to electronic devices that they are losing interest in the more important things in life, like spending time with family, playing, and making memories with friends.
Reducing your kid’s screen time is important, but it will take time. You cannot just bring it down to the set limit in one day.
Here are 10 tips for reducing your kids’ screen time slowly but effectively.
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10 Practical Tips for Reducing Your Kids Screen Time
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1. View Screen Time as a Privilege, Not a Right
Don’t hesitate to take away electronic devices as a negative consequence for unacceptable behavior. That way they will understand that getting to use the phones, video games or laptop is not their right.
It’s a privilege that you can give or take away from them anytime you want.
Just make sure you communicate clearly why this privilege was taken and set a time for when they can regain it.
2. Get Interactive Alternatives for Electronic Devices
Divert your child towards something educational and interactive instead of a screen. It’s not that digital devices don’t teach kids anything at all, but research shows that one-on-one interaction and stimulating play can boost your child’s development.
Encourage your little one to play with interactive toys, (like a realistic doll that can talk and move) or other fun, brain-developing toys. These are better alternatives to the screens, which can keep your kids busy while helping them develop their communication and problem-solving skills.
3. Set Clear Rules and Routine for Screen Time
Once you have decided to limit your kids’ screen time, make a set of rules and a strict routine for their screen time. But before you make that routine remember you don’t need to freak out your children with a drastic change in their routine. Take it slow, but always stick to that routine.
Don’t allow any extra time to access the devices as a reward. Rather, treat them with other things like cookies or a new toy to play with.
4. Increase Indoor & Outdoor Activities
Electronics are often a substitute for boredom. And children get bored pretty easily.
So, make opportunities for outdoor activities like taking them swimming or playing golf. Experiment a little! Nurture new hobbies by trying out art, music, or karate classes.
5. Play Games with Your Kids
There are plenty of fun games for younger children available in the market, like Candyland or Yahtzee Jr. Get a suitable one for your kids to play indoors. Just ensure that they are engaged in various physical activities as well. It will help their development, keep them busy throughout the day and make them tired enough to reduce their time spent on the screens.
6. No Electronics Device in Bedroom or at the Dinner Table
Make some technology-free zones in your house. The best practice is to keep all the bedrooms screen-free. Moreover, avoid using screens while eating the meal at the dinner table. This itself will help a lot since they cannot sneak into their tablets or mobile phone once they get into their bedrooms for sleep.
7. Educate Your Child about Technology, Both Pros and Cons
As adults, we understand that technology can be a blessing and a curse.
On their own, kids don’t understand the need for limitations and boundaries. So, explain why you are limiting their screen times. Educate them about the benefits of technology to encourage productive use of it.
But don’t forget to mention the downsides, so they understand why you are limiting their screen time.
8. Encourage Reading Printed Books instead of eBooks.
In this age of ebooks, it has become rare to read a physical book holding in your hands. But, reading a real book will always be superior to the electronic forms of books.
There are no pop-up ads, scrolling, or interlinks in a printed book. And, according to one study, kids retain information longer by reading a printed book rather than a digital book.
So, if you can instill the habit of reading real books at a very early age, it’ll help your children to increase their patience and hold concentration for longer.
9. Go On Vacations without Electronics
And we’re not just talking about your kids.
It’s quite tough to completely abandon your phone while going on a vacation. Smartphones contain many useful apps and information required by travelers. So, take your phone with you, but do not use it unless it’s very urgent. Spend quality time with your kids and let them see that you can and should enjoy your life without technology sometimes.
10. Set the Rules for Yourself First
The best way to start limiting screen time for kids is by example!
Remember that children learn from your actions better than they would ever learn from your words. So, while setting the rules for limiting their screen time, you should start by setting some limitations for yourself.
Limiting Screen Time for Kids Now Has Lifelong Benefits
Children’s habits and characters are most moldable when they are little kids, until about the age of 9. After that, the older your child grows the harder it gets to shape his habits and routine. Limiting screen time for kids now can eliminate many battles in the future.
Start with these ten tips for reducing your kids’ screen time now. Go slow and don’t forget to be gentle. Hopefully, soon you’ll see the results in your favor. If not, remember that it takes time to change your children’s behavior. Try subsituting your child’s favorite apps and shows with more educational versions. Then, gradually reduce the time he spends on them.
Remember, positive reinforcement and encouraging fun, stimulating activities goes a long way!