Struggling to effectively limit the amount of time your kids spend on screens each day? You’re not alone! It can be a challenge to limit screen time day after day and week after week. Lucky for you, this post is full of awesome info and ideas on how to limit screen time with your children.
What is Screen Time?
Screen time is the amount of time a person spends looking and/or interacting with a device with a screen. This includes: television, tablets, computers, video game consoles, and smartphones.
Screen time has become a part of daily life, and while it is not inherently bad, there are many ways we can limit our children’s screen time to give them opportunities to engage in physical play and find more creative ways to mess up the room we most recently cleaned.
Limiting Screen Time For Kids
Oh hey, exhausted parent! I see you there struggling to manage screen time and dealing with the battle of getting your kids to turn off their video game after you’ve told them to at least 5 times now.
If you’re like me, you’re constantly trying to figure out how to limit the amount of screen time your children have each day. No matter how much you convince yourself you’re going to be on top of it today, you still resort to the old, “Only 30 minutes, mmmkay?” Or the ever classic, “Your character better die soon because lunch is ready!” only to let your guard down and lose track of time.
I think we can all admit that we don’t follow through with these empty threats. A little extra screen time is a small price to pay for 5 more minutes of peace so you can use the facilities in peace without small humans sitting on your lap or little fingers slowly creeping their way under the door.
We all know we should scale back the amount of time our children spend on screens, but how do you limit screen time when it’s become a daily norm?
How to Limit Screen Time
Limiting screen time can be tricky, but it’s totally doable! These suggestions below provide an excellent way to keep track of your child’s screen time and help set limits to the amount of time your children spend on screens each day.
1. Set Daily Screen Time Limits
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following screen time limits:
- Under 1: No screen time. Easy enough. These little blobs of squishy goodness don’t really look at screens anyway at this age.
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Less than 1 hour. This time is recommended to be viewing high-quality educational programming with a parent. Hello Sesame Street!
- Preschool (3-5 years): 1 hour per day. Really? Only one hour?
- Elementary (6-10 years): Less than 2 hours per day, not including school work and homework. So, like 5 then?
- Middle School (11-13 years): Up to 2 hours per day, not including school work and homework. Hahahahahaha!!! Oh, you’re serious.
Honestly, when I went digging for these recommendations, my kids were easily spending WAY too much time on screens. Like waaaaay too much time. Whoops.
With these handy recommendations in mind, my husband and I now try our best to cut off screen time at the 2-hour mark each day (except under special circumstances, holidays, etc.) with our elementary school-aged children. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it to see my children making
messes memories all around our house each day.
You can help limit screen time with your children by choosing a specific time limit and being consistent with shutting things off after the same amount of time each day.
2. Use Timers
Once you have time limits in place, timers will quickly become your best friend. As soon as your children plop themselves in front of a screen, set a timer so everyone will be alerted when screen time is over. I even recommend using a small, digital timer so the kids can visually see how much time they have left.
As a speech-language pathologist who used to work with small children, I can attest to the glory that is timers as well as the super glory that is setting additional “warning” timers as well.
Warning timers are set when the child has 5, 10, or 15 minutes left in their screen time. These warnings are a great way to help your children begin to transition away from the screen, save any progress they’ve made on a current videogame, or determine the best place to pause their show, movie, or tablet game.
They also prevent your sweet spawn from going all apeshit when their screens are turned off. After all, it’s the timer that’s the bad guy, not you! Win-win!
3. Have No Screen Days
Each week, we have no screen days where our children know screens are off limits (except for completing schoolwork or homework assignments).
These days make for great opportunities to encourage your children to entertain themselves in a variety of ways without the use of screens for a whole day. And while I commiserate with you that this opens up whole days where your children are now following you around the house asking existential questions about the universe, I can guarantee your children will greatly benefit from these days off.
We’ve chosen Tuesdays and Thursdays as our screen free days, and after the initial shock and adjustment of having all screens off for an entire day’s time, we’ve found some great ways to entertain the kids without screens (including spontaneous kitchen dance parties and digging out some classic old games!).
Warning: No screen days may transform screen time zombie children staring blankly at the TV chanting ,”Screens! Screeeeeens!” into bored zombie children staring blankly at the ceiling chanting, “Bored! Booooored!” Even so, it’s a small price to pay for a couple days break from those screen time zombie children.
4. Make it Fun
Being the constant nag with screen time gets old fast. Even though you can blame the timer for the end of your kids’ screen time, they are much more likely to respond if you have a fun workaround managing their time.
One awesome way to make limiting screen time fun is by the use of some incentive like my Screen Bucks. They’re like your kid’s own printable money they can use to cash in some daily or weekly screen time.
5. Make Screen Time an Active Activity
Just because screen time is usually a passive activity, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way! For the little ones, choose screen time that gets them moving – like a yoga video or silly songs that get them up and dancing.
And for those older versions of the small humans, did you know that you can add breaks INTO screen time! Holy life hack, Batman! Yes! It’s true. Even though commercials are a thing of the past, if your kids are watching a series on a streaming service, have them take a 5-minute break in between episodes for a wiggle break or run around the house.
You can even bring those adorable timers back into play and set an alarm for every 15 minutes to have your children take a break to go do something active or even get up and jump around while enjoying their show.
6. Make Tech-Free Zones in Your House
Just like having no-screen days, set aside places in your home that are dedicated to being tech-free. Keep computers and laptops in offices or the corner of the living room. Make sure the dinner table and bedrooms are tech-free zones (this will really help as kids get older and decide you aren’t cool enough to hang out with anymore).
As children spend more time online, the risk of online predators becomes a very serious reality. Making screen off limits in bedrooms, basements, and other super private areas of the home can help you monitor your children’s activity better as well.
7. Set an Example
As the super mature adult figure in the household (that’s you!), make sure to set the example for your kids. If the dinner table is a screen-free zone, that includes you too, pops.
Kids follow our example, and showing them that we can survive without our gadgets attached at our hips is a great way for the entire family to unplug for a while and engage in some silly dinnertime conversations.
We can do it! I think.
Screen Time Management
Screen time can often feel like it’s taken over raising your children, but it doesn’t have to be this way! There are many easy things you can do TODAY when you’re wondering how to limit screen time.
On the hunt for more parenting hacks? Check out all our posts about raising small humans. Need some daily funnies to get you through the day? Follow Bring Wit On on Twitter for random ramblings of an exhausted adult mother person who may have lost her mind.
Really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for the tips and humour 😁