While there’s nothing wrong with a little screen time, children still need plenty of play, exercise and sleep. But convincing kids to step away from the tablet can be challenging. Here are 19 ideas to get children off their screens!
Ready for some awesome ideas? Here we go…
1. Turn the WiFi off at a specific time each evening — this means the whole family must find things to do that don’t involve the internet. Even you, mum and dad!
2. Go on a nature walk, preferably out of WiFi range. Bring pads and pencils to sketch trees and flowers. Much more fun than simply snapping photos on your phone!
3. Have a “no phones at mealtime” rule. Instead, use mealtimes to chat, catch up and actually enjoy the food!
4. Lead by example. Download a screentime monitoring app and set reminders to put away your own phone. When your kids see you doing other activities, they are more likely to want to step away from their tech too.
5. Motivating children to put their tablets down and help around the house with chores can be challenging. Make them earn screen time by completing household tasks. For example, unload the dishwasher and earn 10 minutes, or clean their bedroom for a half-hour block. Nothing wrong with a little bribery…
6. Avid gamers might be tempted off their phones with a board game. Introduce children to “analogue” classics, such as Monopoly and Chess. Or for something new, try Horrible Histories the Board Game.
7. Have regular, honest conversations about screen time. Don’t necessarily frame it as a “bad” thing–just as something you’d like to minimise as a family. Explain the rationale behind your thinking in ways that kids can understand.
8. Make a “public screen time” rule for the children. This means no phones, tablets or consoles in bedrooms. This helps you keep an eye on what they’re doing and how much time they’re actually spending online.
9. Start a screen-time log for the whole family. Everyone must document all of the time they spend looking at screens each day. Each week, check in and have a family discussion about the numbers and how to keep reducing them.
10. Minecraft enthusiasts should be encouraged to build something in real-life every day. Get out the Lego, blocks and other building toys and spend an afternoon creating something awesome!
11. Take a break from reading news and gossip on your devices. Set a designated “bookworm” half-hour every day. Get cosy, make a hot drink and dig out those books you’ve been meaning to read.
12. Charge all phones and tablets in your bedroom (or another secure place) overnight to prevent the children from sneaking onto them late at night or early in the morning.
13. Use parental control apps to set daily-use limits on children’s devices.
14. Make sure that kids unplug at least an hour before bed each night. This will help ensure that they get the best sleep possible.
15. Limit the number of apps and games your children can access at any one time. For example, let them choose only one game to keep on their tablet for a week. When the week is up, they can decide to keep that game or delete it and download a new one.
16. During the day, set an hourly exercise challenge. For instance, at the start of each hour, everyone must drop everything and do twenty star-jumps. This will help kids keep an eye on the time, and it’ll also remind everyone to put away the screens for a few minutes and get active.
17. Try listening instead of watching. Download a family-friendly audiobook or a podcast–hey, it doesn’t really count as screen time if no one’s actually looking at the screen, right?
18. Dedicate a “no phone” half-hour each day to playing a card game as a family. Right after a meal time is often a good time for this. Try Old Maid, Go Fish, all the classics! For a fun twist, try the Horrible Histories Vile Villians card deck.
19. Be consistent! Technology addiction is hard to break, but consistency is the key to a happier, healthier family! And remember: perfection isn’t the goal here. Everyone will have slip-ups, but as long as you’re trying, you’re still heading in the right direction.
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Why did the computer get glasses? To improve its websight!