How much screen time do you allow your children? How attached are they to smartphones, iPads, TVs, video game consoles, and MP3 players? This has become a bigger and bigger issue recently, and it’s certainly not something we grew up with! While we grew up running around outside with friends and playing board games, our kids today are probably even more tech-savvy than we are with digital toys! With all the latest and greatest in the digital world today, it can be tough to reduce screen time for your kids. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help encourage your kids to find fun elsewhere.
But first, how much is too much?
Recommended screen time for kids
From the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- 0-18 months: Avoid as much as you can!
- 18-24 months: Continue to limit screen time at this age, but you may choose to allow some time here and there.
- 2-5 years: Limit screen time to one hour per day.
- 6 years and older: While it’s technically “safe” to allow your children at this age to use screens more often, this is where it comes down to your own judgement and decisions. We suggest one hour per day but keep in mind that many school projects require computers these days.
Tips to reduce screen time for your kids
1. Be realistic. When setting a limit for your children, take into account what a typical day looks like. Does your child have homework on a computer? Do you have long drives each morning where your child tends to get bored? Is it the summer (meaning you want them outside and off their screens even more)? Take everything into account and set an achievable limit.
2. Set a good example. If your child sees you pick up your phone regularly to scroll through Instagram, or they notice you and your spouse watching excessive amounts of television at night, you can’t expect them not to follow suit. However, if they see you choose to spend time outside or being productive more often than on a screen, they’ll have an easier time doing the same.
3. Remove the temptations. It may be a good idea to remove TVs from your children’s rooms, and maybe even your own room (hint, hint, # 2!). Cut back on the number of devices you keep in your home and encourage other family members not to buy more for your kids. Show them that it’s not necessary to always have the latest and greatest, and they’ll be less likely to beg for the newest version of their favorite device.
4. Explain why. Is your child in that “but why?” phase? They’ll likely have plenty of questions about why they can’t spend more time on an iPad or computer, so come ready with answers! Teach them that there are much better, healthier ways to spend your time, and show them how much more fun those other activities can be.
5. Give them alternatives. You can’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk as well! If you tell your child their screen time is up but they don’t know what to do next, suggest some fun, healthy alternatives. Even join in on the fun! Take them for a hike where you can explore together, take them to the pool, play a game with them, or take them to Monkey Joe’s where they can bounce some energy out and forget about those screens!
6. Remember it’s a learning process! You won’t get it perfect every day. Some days are just tough for parents, and you may not stick to your limit. Keep your head up and try again tomorrow! It’s important to continue to revisit these steps, especially in the very beginning when you first begin limiting screen time. Just remember: you’ll get there!
We love helping parents get their kids off the couch, away from screens, and having fun. Bring your kids to Monkey Joe’s any day to give them a fun alternative to those screens! Find your location here.