Times up! It’s tough to admit, but allowing TV and screen time can be useful to us parents when we have things to do and our kids won’t let us concentrate for just one minute! We’ve all done it- how could you not negotiate peace and quiet in exchange for screen time? As you’ve probably heard with anything else, moderation is key. Your household can be a fun zone but should also have rules that keep the kids engaged in activities other watching TV, playing on the computer, playing video games, or scrolling through a phone. Excessive screen time takes away from daily physical activity, can lead to weight problems and can form unhealthy eating habits, especially if screen time is allowed during meals. With rule setting and structure, you can help your child avoid health problems and bad habits in the future. Let’s take a look at some super tips to help you and your family get started!
Set limits before your child starts watching. Habits are created from a young age—the hardest part is changing habits once they have formed!
Get creative with activity ideas. Brainstorm with your kids to think of alternative fun options to keep them busy during the day. Out of ideas? Give some of these outdoor activities a try!
Create screen-free zones. Keep the TV, computer, iPad, and other “screens” in the main rooms so you know when your child is watching, and make the bedrooms screen-free zones. This means charging stations should be outside of the bedrooms- even for yourself!
Set a timer. Explain to your child how much time she gets for media play and make sure to give her countdowns if she is too young to tell time.
Maximize screen time. Find educational shows and games that will keep their brains sharp. Look for Wii fit active video games so they can get in extra physical activity for a 2 in one special!
Highlight health and activity. Explain to your kids why it is good for them to be active rather than spend all of their time sitting and looking at screens.
Make screen time off limits while eating. Having a distraction while eating can lead to poor food habits, and will make it more difficult for your child to regulate hunger. Help kickstart mindful and intuitive eating at a young age!
Create a reward system. Make them earn their leisure/screen time by completing their chores and homework.
Set up parental controls. You can do this with the internet and the TV to limit the content your child can watch.
Make the rules clear. Have a set schedule and post it on the fridge so there is no arguing or confusion.
Have a “screen free” day once a week. Let your kids decide which day they will do this so they are part of the decision.
Record each family member’s screen time. Allot a certain amount of time for every member of the family and record how much they use. When the maximum is reached, they are done for the day.
Go by the sun! Only allow TV time or video games when the sun goes down (this is especially great in the summer months when the sunlight seems to last forever!). When the sun’s out, everyone has to get creative and find a different activity!
Use your own screen time to find more ideas. Search online for fairs/festivals in the area or other fun free things to do in your town as a family.
Now that you have a new set of tools under your belt, it’s time to clock out of your screen time for the day and go lead by example. Kids are eager to learn and are always assessing their environment, so set them up for success by showing them how much fun you can all have when you’re on your feet and your eyes have something to focus on other than a screen!