How to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

how to reduce child's screen time

The time we used to spend outdoors, in cars, shopping malls, or just hanging out with friends, we now spend indoors watching TV or using smartphones much of the time. Adults have a hard enough time as it is to limit their screen time, so what about the children?

Such a routine is not ideal for young eyes. Their screen use has increased drastically. Online sessions have replaced classrooms, and the time they used playing in the grounds is now spent watching online videos, playing games, or Face-timing with friends.

Although it is understandable that parents currently have their hands full with remote working, homeschooling, and running the household, they are sometimes guilty of using digital devices as a babysitter. And although parents need a break too, they must establish limits regarding acceptable limits regarding screen time.

Reducing your child’s screen time can significantly lessen digital eye strain symptoms that include blurry vision, tired eyes, and headaches. Here are some ways you can take control and reduce screen time during times at home.

1. Reduce your Screen time first

Yes, it has to start with you. Kids look up to parents, and if you don’t reduce your screen time, you cannot make your children do so. There are some software and apps that you can install on your phone, and monitor how much time you spend on your phone and other digital activities. Some phones come with inbuilt features and monitor the overall usage and time you spend on individual apps.

If you spend two hours on an app every day, reduce it to one hour and then gradually, into half an hour. Once you do that, you would be surprised to see how much time you have for other activities. But it’s not about your screen time in the first place; you are doing this for your children.

Enjoy screen-free meals

The idea should be to enjoy meals. It has become a norm to eat meals in front of a TV or using cellphones that results in distracted eating. You are more focused on what is happening on the screen than what we are putting in our mouth.

Mealtimes are great for social interaction. And these days have provided both parents and children to spend more quality time with each other. So, tell your children that no phones will be allowed on the table during meals. Make them leave their phones in another room away from the table.

Call your friends and family

Traditional phone calls have become a thing of the past now. If you notice, you would prefer to send a text message or a voice mail than answering a call. But phone calls are important. And psychologically beneficial too. Direct voice communication can even save relationships, which has become crucial when families and friends are living in isolation.

Call up a friend or family member. Make your children call their friends or grandparents. And then assess how you feel after hanging up the phone. Phone calls are a great way to connect when you cannot be together physically. Video calls are great as well. At least your child won’t be tapping away on the screen, texting or scrolling down Facebook.

Read at least one chapter every day

Why one chapter? Well, if you haven’t read books in a while, you cannot finish an entire book in a day. If not one, go for at least two. Reading is one of the best hobbies, and you should urge your children to read more. Also, if the book is unable to capture their interest or attention, they can always pick up another one.

Ebooks and audiobook rentals are available at local libraries easily. Indulge in reading with your children. You can do various activities. Choose books to read for the week, and then ask your children what they learned from it. Also, you can take turns reading as a family.

Take a break from digital devices

The key is to gradually reduce screen time and cut it down as much as you can. But as said earlier, doing it in quarantine gets a bit difficult. You can start with short breaks and encourage your children to give their eyes and their devices some rest. Make a timetable for your children that they have to take a short break every hour. You can go outside in the backyard or garden. Explore ideas for fun physical indoors games.  Do some chore, solve a puzzle or anything that does not involve screens.

With short breaks, the focus gets better. And eventually, you would find these habits becoming addictive. When you step away from the screens for 10 minutes, it will slowly increase to 20 minutes. You would find yourself doing other things and getting accustomed to it. Now, this might be easier with young children but not with teens. Excessive screen use not only harms the eyes but spending too much time on social media has negative impacts on psychological health. Social media is addictive, and if you think that your teen is not going to break free anytime soon, you need to take some strict measures. Get a monitoring app designed for parents to keep a check on your teen’s digital activities.

The app monitors text messages, call logs, emails, locations, web browsing history, and a lot more. There are numerous remote functionalities too. If you think your teens are not following rules and using screens when they are supposed to be taking a break or doing something else, you can learn how to remotely shut or lock the device.

Indulge in a new hobby

Everyone person wants to learn something or know something they have been interested in for a long time. Now maybe the best time to experience or learn new things. Help your child finding a new hobby. It can be growing a veggie garden, a DIY project at home, beginner cooking skills, organizing, or anything else. Children are using tablets and phones excessively due to the monotonous routine during the quarantine. When there is something new to do, they are going to distance themselves from the screens on their own.

And even if you use screens to learn a new craft like YouTube. See that you watch the tutorial and then get to work.

The occasional laziness is okay

While all of the above tips work and bring results, you cannot spend the entire quarantine self-improving. Leave some room for relaxation. And it is alright if your child spends an hour more on-screen once a week. Do not feel guilty about it.

We all have a lot of time on our hands that we can use to reflect upon ourselves or relax. Enjoy nature and your surroundings. Plan a lunch or breakfast in the backyard/garden. Ask your children to come up with ideas for décor. And also the menu. You have to make use of what you have and feel blessed.

Mindfulness and meditation do not require physical activity but can boost your mental health and give you a new perspective. There are many ways you can practice these things with children and make them feel more attuned to their surroundings away from the digital world.

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