Are you wondering how to limit screen time for your son or daughter? From the TV to the phone and laptop, there are a lot of screens that likely catch their attention. Let’s look at ways for parents to encourage them to take breaks, and why that’s so important.
It’s a High-Tech World
We live in a technologically oriented world where almost everything is digital. Right from the way we do business to how we access information, it all involves some aspect of technology. Even kids are using tech to study in schools. However, despite all the positive impacts of smartphones and other devices, there have been cases of technology addiction. Which begs the question, where do we draw the line between reasonable time spent on computers and addiction?
For example, kids love watching their cartoons. It doesn’t come as surprise to find a kid who spends an entire day glued to the screen.
According to research by Kaiser Family Foundation, most children under the age of 6 spend approximately 2 hours a day watching TV. Those between the ages of 8 to 18 years are glued to screens about 6 hours a day, between the 4 hours of TV and 2 hours of computer time.
Why Screen Time Needs Boundaries
Now you are likely thinking, why is this habit is harmful? For starters, the effects of prolonged TV and computer exposure can lead to childhood obesity.
Research has shown that kids who spend most of their time indulging in this behavior are also likely to develop aggressive tendencies as they may imitate what they see in movies (see link above).
Below are seven smart ways to limit screen time for your kids:
1. Provide Them with a Role Model
It’s one thing to limit the screen time for kids but another thing to set a good example. You could be strict on them yet you personally watch movies all night. Kids like emulating their parents and if you are doing contrary to what you tell them, it would be practically impossible to implement your strategy.
If you like watching TV, they will do the same. So, be a responsible parent by limiting your own time and they will likely do the same. Lead by example.
2. Car Wash, Anyone?
Unfortunately, many kids around the world suffer from obesity. To reduce the risks of developing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer, it’s a good idea to get them outside more. Washing cars with your kids over the weekend is not only fun but a fantastic workout. Given the intense nature of this activity, it gets children on their feet instead of watching TV all day. All the crawling and reaching that comes with cleaning your car is a great source of exercise.
Car washing also gives your kid a sense of responsibility and work ethic. In today’s world, kids have been programmed to grow up, go to school, and look for a career without having worked before. As a result, they can grow up lacking the knowledge to navigate even the smallest of responsibilities. Introduce them to the working culture so they will value work and also feel good about a job well done.
3. Fix It Together
Here’s something to remember: Never change a tire, repair leaky faucets, or paint the fence without the company of your kids. Buy easy-to-use perfect portable tools such as compressors, impact drivers, small drills, etc. Your kids will like tools and will help you with great desire.
These minor home repairs are awesome opportunities to introduce them to use tools and to life responsibilities. The basement, attic, and crawl spaces can all make valuable classrooms to learn how things work and how they can safely fix things. You can start with them watching you and give them some minor tasks as they gain more understanding of tasks.
Surprisingly, kids love to engage in activities they see grownups do. The results may not be perfect but they will definitely help in improving their technical capacity as well as help develop their motor skills.
4. Running Lemonade Stands
Running a small business like a lemonade stand is another way of enticing your kid to limit screen time. It’s an opportunity to plant the seed of entrepreneurship at a tender age, and at the same time, they’ll earn some cash. These young entrepreneurs also get to learn how money works while also becoming savvier at marketing.
To ensure they run the stand as a real business, you can help them acquire the licenses and that they are making the lemonade themselves. In terms of capital, you can lend them the starting capital say $100, and ensure they repay you back.
5. Mowing Lawns
Lawn mowing is another consideration that you should have in mind as a way of deflecting your kids’ attention from technology. Although it may not be ideal for young kids, it’s a perfect opportunity for an eager teen not only to make money but to learn a lot.
And even if they aren’t doing it for money, they can do it to help out around the house or to help neighbors. Lawn mowing is a great exercise too.
6. Playing Games
This being a post about kids’ activities, we ought to talk about games! Playing with your children is a wonderful way to bond, exercise, and have fun.
The License Plate Game is fun for kids who love cars or get bored easily on road trips. Depending on where you live, you can spot tags for number plates of different states or countries and see who correctly calls out the most.
7. Choose Binge Days
Limiting screen time doesn’t mean completely alienating your kids from technology. That is why you should allow them to have occasional “indulgence holidays” where they can watch kids TV shows even without your permission. For example, you can set Saturday as the binge day but retain the right to dictate the channels they watch. At first, they may hate you for that but they will end up loving it especially if they are watching educational content.
Be sure though that the binge days don’t interfere with their school schedule, homework, or bedtime. For this reason, it’s wise to avoid making these days Monday through Friday. This kind of setup is especially good for kids who haven’t started using technology to learn in classrooms as they will all through high school.
Also, make sure they get outside for some sports or other physical activity. Walks are a great distraction from technology, for example.
Excessive screen time can negatively affect your kids, both physically and mentally. A sedentary lifestyle could quickly spiral into obesity, lack of mental development, and even raise blood pressure levels.
As a parent, cutting those screen hours allows them to sleep better, read more, and engage in active play. Use these suggestions to limit screen time for your family as a whole and encourage more quality time together instead!