How to get kids off screens – Controlling screen time

Most of the time, people ask me that “my kids are addicted to iPad, where can I take my kids to play? so that they use these devices less often!”.

Yes! I often receive Instagram DMs asking for tips on limiting screen time for kids and rules of teenage computer and IPad use.

Rising question: How to get kids off screens?

Honestly, The one way I have been able to control my children’s screen time is by setting up boundaries.

But! In order for these strategies to work, it is important to be clear and consistent in enforcing the boundaries you set. If your child gets upset, acknowledge his or her feelings and explain why you are doing it (e.g., “I can tell that you would rather watch a show with us right now, but we need to spend some time together.”).

It helps to keep in mind that parents are usually the ones who set boundaries and enforce rules for screens. Parents who want to help their children develop a healthy relationship with technology and the internet may guide them in a way that respects their privacy and encourages empathy and creativity.

But, How to limit screen time for kids, set boundaries around screen time activities, and negotiate with your children about it?

I know you want the best for your children (of course), but sometimes we don’t know how to navigate the digital world, and I’ll be honest here, you can’t control the internet all the time so it’s not an overnight job. But definitely, child-friendly filters and parental controls can help to achieve this! And I’ll be discussing some easy yet effective ways to get kids off screens.

Recommended screen time for kids

According to old research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2 hours was the recommended screen time for kids. But as digital media is evolving in our lives, we can’t fade away from these devices now.

Simple is that… There is no thumb rule.

This doesn’t mean that your kid can spend the whole night playing games and all of his leisure time on Netflix. However, the general thumb would be controlling screen time as much as can and trying new things instead of scrolling feeds without any purpose (like outings, readings, new hobbies, and doing other fun things).

Not an overnight deal but! it’s possible

According to a survey back in 2017 (I know the data is old but well enough to give an idea), the average child spends a big part of his day on screen-based activities. As it’s mentioned in the graphics that on average, kids spend 18.6 hours on screen per week but only 2.7 hours for homework.

Infographic: Screen Time Dominates Kid's Play | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

But while discussing with parents, 31% said that their kids need guidance on what to do without electronics.

Yes, you can get kids off screens by encouraging and teaching them fun things to do without technology.

Do It Early

The earlier you enforce them to not use devices and the internet, the easier it will be for them to get used to that.

Why?

Because the only thing they know is screen time, so when you take it away, they’ll go ballistic! But after some days, hopefully, weeks, they should learn how to spend their leisure time without devices. A study says that the more kids are addicted to the screen at an early age, the stronger this habit forms and definitely later it will be hard to stop them from using the screens.

Children’s daily average screen time increase from 53 minutes at age 12 to 150 minutes at the age of 3 years. This means, that the more you offer them screens the more they addict to them!

Thankfully, you can limit (especially when they’re pretty young) by just denying your kids access.

Every child is different so your strategy should be too. The content viewing limit of a gamer kid can definitely be different from a video junkie.

Limit the usage

Limiting their gadget usage is a great way to help them get a little closer to a technology-free life.

You can limit it by taking your kids’ phones from time to time and checking what apps do they use most?

YouTube Kids app or Amazon Fire tablet is the best child-friendly device that won’t take much of your time to monitor kids’ activities. Also, you can install a parental control app on their devices so it’s easy for you to keep track of them.

Of course, there are some other ways too like avoiding using phones at dinner or in social gatherings and gradually decreasing the device usage overall.

Technology is manipulating us

Indeed, it’s very true. But why not inform your kids?

I know it’s not easy to get rid of the gadgets from your lives, but at least is good to make kids understand that they should use technology in a limited way.

There are pros and cons of using technology – depends on how you control it, and the misuse of such technologies will alternatively start to control our lives. This is what you need to make understand your kids.

get kids off social media

Tell them about social media’s addictive qualities that how YouTube shows another related video after one, making us feel like we need to spend more time online, and how Facebook creates a cycle of either sharing or receiving negative news!

Show them how to do it

This is one of the best strategies on how to get kids off screens.

We all need some rules to follow, and since we’re kids, we always like to see an example first. This is the best strategy that I believe will surely work, and it’s about implementing first in your own life. When they’ll know that their parents are also part of the “no-screen” world, you have a strong ground to enforce rules on them about device usage.

So show them how you use your phone and other electronic gadgets and then tell them why it’s important that they should limit their screen time too. You can set a good example that having device addiction is not good for our health by turning it off or putting it on silent (or flight) mode while sleeping and by replacing screen time with some family activities like playing board games, reading books, sitting together on the sofa or enjoying nature.

Guide what to do without electronics

As mentioned earlier, 31% of parents say that their children need guidance on a few alternatives to spend time without the screen. That’s why it’s your responsibility to show them some joyful ways like being creative, being with friends or family, playing sports, etc.

And of course, it works the other way too.

Do you remember how much joy your parents gave you when they showed you to ride a bike or write your name for the first time? It’s always an unforgettable moment that can’t be replaced by any amount of screen time.

You can create unforgettable moments like these with your kids too by guiding them in activities that don’t require technology, and maybe they’ll follow you soon (and it won’t be hard to convince the others).

Device Free Meal Zones

You can assign some places in your house to be “device-free” zones like the living room, the dinner table, and your child’s bedrooms.

reduce screen time of toddlers while meal

Especially, encourage them to put all gadgets away before mealtime so there are no distractions and pleasant conversations instead. Or you can also ask them not to use the device at all but spend time with you as a family either playing games or watching TV series together.

Tech free days

I always do a tech-free day every week so that I can restore my energy through mindful activities, and I believe it’s mandatory to give a bit of rest and enjoy your life. I don’t know what you love most, but I take the family for outings every Saturday, so we can see this world from a different perspective.

This will 100% work for your kids. Choose one day of the week just and tell them that this is their tech-free day (which usually works on Saturday or Sunday). You don’t need to check their gadgets, but you can guide them to spend some time doing different activities or you can schedule a trip to any beautiful place.

No more screens after 10 pm

This is the best strategy to get kids off screens (not just for your kids but you can try this too).

The rule is: “No screens after 10 pm”

Put down all devices at least 1 hour before going to bed. It will make a huge difference to your sleep quality as well as it will improve your mood and productivity the next day.

Since most people spend their time on social media or watching Netflix or YouTube before going to sleep, there’s a high chance that it will keep them awake longer than they should. And this way, they’ll get less deep sleep and wake up with low energy the next day.

You can enforce this rule by communicating with your kids and limiting their device usage before going to bed.

Few alternatives to get kids off screens

• Water fun (Swimming pools etc): kids love being in the water! It’s virtually impossible for them to play with a computer when there are buckets and sponges around, or even better – if they have a pool outside their own house! 

Board games: As an alternative to buying expensive electronic toys, board games are much more affordable and help children develop many skills. Like Wildcraft, which is an herbal adventure educational board game for kids, or The Busytown (a cooperative board game).

Painting and drawing: By getting some art materials for children, they can get creative and spend time improving their skills.

Bike riding / Rollerblading: This is fun for all the family and a great way to burn off some energy!

• Outings: Walks are a great way to get out of the house together. When we go on walks, we see things that we wouldn’t have noticed when driving or even on foot alone. Sometimes it’s good to take time and simply appreciate the things around us. Even if you’re not walking, a trip to the park is still fun!

Playing outdoors: They will be burning off energy and getting some fresh air while being surrounded by nature. In addition, they would have great memories of these times in the future.  

Reading Books: It’s good to read books as a family – for your child’s development and also for bonding time together as a family. From steamy novels to personal development & business, the book can be of many types.

It’s Your Turn!

One day without devices isn’t enough! it’s a good practice to teach your kids the importance of daily limits when it comes to screen time.

picnic instead of screen time

And for that, It’s really important to raise kids with real-life experiences because technology will never replace nature and its beauty. That’s why it’s necessary that we guide our kids in spending more time outside, playing games without screens and organizing family game nights, and most importantly, encouraging them to engage in such activities.

On the contrary, It doesn’t matter if they spend more time on devices (as this is the era of technology), but their device usage should be goal-oriented and not just for “killing time”.

For the parents looking for the solution to “how to get kids off screens” these above simple strategies are enough to lead to a plethora.