Limiting your Children's Screen Time
Why it's Important & How to Do it.
It's nearly impossible to limit my kid's screen time to equal the amount I watched when I was a kid. Nowadays it doesn't require a trip to the video store for a movie, or waiting until Saturday morning for cartoons to come on. Plus, there are educational games and apps that are literally helping kids get ahead! My 7 year-old was introduced to a math video game at school and he is now doing grade 4 level math (he's in grade 2). But when my kids get too much screen time they end up grumpy, less sociable, and have a harder time concentrating.
It is my job to teach them that to be happy, to have a healthy relationships with themselves and others, and that to get ahead in life, it all takes skills that are not acquired watching spongebob and playing video games.
"When very small children get hooked on tablets and smartphones, says Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, they can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains. Too much screen time too soon, he says, “is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary—all those abilities are harmed.” (Taken from Psychology Today's, This is What Screen Time Really Does to Kid's Brains)
When my kids spend more time outside, playing solo or with siblings and friends, being creative or helping out around the house it is easier to get them engaged. They are more kind, thoughtful, fun and just overall happier.
So how do you successfully limit their screen time? It can be hard! Screen time is a tool that allows busy parents to get things done and get a much needed break! But for me, I was struggling limiting it every day. I would say 1 hour screen time per week day, but it always ended up being more. I would get distracted doing something and the time would fly by. I decided to make some clear boundaries around screen time (as much for me as for them), and the change in my children was immediately obvious!
My Family's Screen-Time Rules
1. No Screen time on school-day mornings.
2. No screen time Monday-Thursday after school. (I used to let them watch while I made dinner. Now they help make dinner! Or at least hang out in the kitchen and keep me company. #winning).
3. Friday is family Movie Night!
4. Saturday is kind of a free for all. (We still have family outings and activities, so there isn't always time, but if they ask if they can watch, most of the time the answer is yes).
5. Sunday morning they watch for an hour or so. (After that, no more watching until their weekly chores are done. If they get their chores done and we happen to have time, they may get another little spurt).
Huge Reduction in Screen Time!
Since this change, I have reduced screen time by approximately 8-15 hours per week! It's no wonder they are happier, more sociable, more helpful around the house, play better . . .pretty much everything is better. :)
Setting clear boundaries means I don’t need to make up reasons for why they can’t watch right now. It’s Monday. Period. Rules are no watching till Friday afternoon.
The amazing thing is that since we started limiting screen time, they ask to watch way less!!! They have learned how to play together better (they are 3.5 years apart). They gravitate towards doing more art, going outside and just good old playing solo. It took about 3 days of complaining, and that was that. I am incredibly proud of my little beans.
If you read this, and thought somehow this was easier for me than it is for you, think again! That was my excuse for ages. My husband and I both work and you can't find 'busier' parents than us. In the end, limiting screen time created MORE TIME in the day! Trust me on this one, it will be easier than you think and the change in your kids will be incredibly rewarding.
by founder, Andrea Dershin