Tips for Unplugging the Kids

Having trouble prying your child’s face away from the screen? You’re not alone! With all of the latest and greatest technological toys, you might find it harder and harder to get your kids to power down their devices.

What is Screen Time?
Screen time is a term used for activities that are done in front of a screen, for example: watching TV, using a computer or tablet, playing video games, even looking at a smartphone for an extended period of time.

What’s wrong with screen time?
Too much screen time can make it harder for your kids to fall asleep at night, increase their risk of attention problems, and raise their risk of gaining too much weight.

How much screen time is OK?
It is recommended that children under 2 years have no screen time, children 2-5 should be limited to less than one hour of screen time per day, and school-aged children should spend less than two hours per day in screen time for recreational purposes.

Screen-free tips
It might be hard to pry your kids away from the screens at first, especially if screen time is already largely incorporated into their daily schedule. Screenfree.org has some great tips and tricks to help parents get their kids to power down. Here are some things you can do with your kids to help get them away from electronics:

  • Plan a family meal together; have the kids help do the grocery shopping and meal preparation.
  • Make homemade cards or gifts to give to neighbors or friends.
  • Organize a weekly book club with your kids’ friends; come up with discussion questions together.
  • Have a family game night; learn how to play a new game each week.
  • Create a collage out of old magazines or newspapers.
  • Sort through your closets and donate unwanted items. Plan a neighborhood garage sale.
  • Bake cakes or cookies and invite friends over for a tea party.
  • Go on a nature hike and look for/identify different types of trees, plants, birds, etc.
  • Make puppets out of old socks and have a puppet show.
  • Reorganize/rearrange your family room so that furniture faces away from screens.

In addition, you should set limits on your own screen time. One of the best things you can do to help change your kid’s attitude about screen time is to lead by example. Institute screen-free and phone-free meals, don’t rely on screens as a babysitter, and designate at least one day each week as Family Screen-Free Day. It might take some time for these rules to catch on, but don’t give up! The long-term benefits will make it all worth it.

For more information about parenting tips, go here.