How to Reduce Screen Time for Families
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day in front of screens. It may be on social media or watching TV or playing videos games. Even adults will agree that the hours “fly by” when engaging with the digital world. Don’t worry, the 7 Day Digital Detox is not asking you to go offline for 7 Days.
Rather, it’s 7 days of tech-free family activities and conversation starters delivered to your inbox. It’s a chance for your family to reconnect without looking at a screen. Life is about balance. It’s about developing healthy habits that doesn’t necessarily mean stopping something you love to do altogether.
It’s not uncommon to see a group of teens sitting together, each of them on their phones on social media or texting, but none of them interacting with each other. The same thing happens with families at home. Let’s face it. Watching TV kills time. Surfing the web or scroll posts on social media can eat up hours. The temptation for distraction from life is great but ‘so called’ relaxing time can also lead to online burnout.
There is also the time reading online news, most of which is negative. It can bring a person down without a balance of reading stories that are positive and uplifting.
No one denies the benefits of being able to keep in touch with family and friends miles away, especially in this time of social distancing. But even when you look at the hours we spend on screens, how much of it is actually having a digital conversation compared with reading and viewing information in silence. Studies have claimed too much screen time can cause social and family dysfunction, as well as development delays and depression.
Human Interaction Takes Planning
If we don’t set time aside to do things as a family, it won’t happen. It’s the difference between cooking dinner and having family members just take their food from the stove to eat wherever they like, or saying “tonight, we’re going to have a sit-down meal together”. It takes a simple commitment. A meal together is one activity a family can do to have a conversation, as long as everyone doesn’t bring their phones to the table.
Planning to do something can be easy to talk about. It’s much more difficult to follow through on unless at time is set. For example, at 5 o’clock today we’re all going for a walk. Friday nights are game night. Keep it interesting by exploring fresh new activities like new language games the whole family can enjoy. Or how about a family drive to a scenic outdoor viewpoint in your local area.
And there’s nothing wrong with a movie night. True, it’s more time in front of a screen but can be a fun time to spend time together compared with everyone just watching their own favorite show in solitude. The same can be said for videos games done together on one screen as a family. It’s certainly better than when kids individually looking at their screens with no interaction with those around them.
As mentioned, it’s not about eliminating screen time, only reducing screen time it in our daily lives while connecting in a personal way with our family. Puzzles anyone? It may not be everyone’s preference. In that case, break up your activities in groups. Some work on a puzzle while others play a game or build a connectable toy.
So why not give it a try?
Sign up for the 7 Day Digital Detox and you’ll receive one email per day for 7 days. Each email will consist of fun ideas to help you reconnect as a family in fun way.
The Digital Detox is inspired by the same parental control software company that developed Covenant Eyes, the program that also teaches kids how to be responsible internet users. Screen time monitoring is just one of the features that parental controls offer, in addition to preventing the much worse consequences of when kids come into contact with explicit material online.
Any attempt to reduce screen time, avoid screen time addiction, or protect families from harm online begins with a conversation. The 7 Day Digital Detox is great way to open the lines of communication between family members so that having those important conversations happen naturally.