It’s a conflict many parents today are a lot more familiar with than they’d like to be; peeling the kids away from the screen. Whether it’s the television screen, smartphone, tablet, video game console or a combination of screens, the struggles are real. Here are five strategies to help you get your kids off their devices and back to reality.
1. Introduce Them To Other Engaging Activities
Promoting physical activities and new learning experiences can be a way to prevent your children from developing a mindset where the only source of entertainment they consider is technology. A great option is enrolling them in local swimming lessons for kids. Not only will they learn a valuable life skill at swim school, but you also will have a fun and healthy activity scheduled as part of their routine.
2. Model Behaviour
Normalise limited screen use in your home by making it a lifestyle choice for all members of the household; mum, dad, grandparents, older siblings – everyone! Model behaviour refers to the intrinsic style of learning that children experience via imitation.
As a busy parent it can be easy to focus and worry about your children’s negative habitual behaviours before looking at your own, but it’s very important that you do this before you invest your energy in other time-consuming solutions to curb their screen time! The easiest and cheapest way to help shape your child’s behaviour is to be a good role model yourself.
3. Screen-free Holidays or Family Time
This goes hand in hand with model behaviour. What better way to establish healthier habits and forms of entertainment as a family than a screen-free getaway adventure? This will require some planning but the process is easy to manage. You can simply choose to forgo wifi when it comes to booking accommodation, request that televisions are moved or go camping. Spend the time participating in outdoor activities like swimming, family sports or even home activities like board games and bonding through real-life face time.
4. Establish Technology-free Spaces
This is relatively easy to do at home but it only really works if everyone follows the rules. Limit your “technology spaces” to the lounge room where the television is (unless you choose to be TV-free), and to where your study space is. Make a point of keeping the children’s bedrooms, play areas and other communal rooms like the kitchen and dining areas tech-free. To make sure the rules are going to have the desired effect, every member of the family should be complying with them and keeping phones away from the dinner table and communal areas.
5. Make Your Rules Known To Extended Family and Friends
You can strictly enforce these rules at home but if your children are spending a lot of time at their grandparents’ house or with a babysitter who uses TV to keep them entertained, your progress could potentially go out the window. Share your tech-free goals and rules of the house with your close family, friends and babysitters to avoid this. At the same time, there’s no need to berate or ridicule your relatives, or children, for occasionally bending the rules or indulging in a TV show or game once in a while. You don’t want to alienate anyone over something so trivial or cause your kids to feel anxious over cartoons.
By following through with these five points and actively encouraging positive pastimes and behaviours, you’ll significantly reduce your screen-use collectively as a family and at the same time lead a healthier lifestyle. Everyone wins!