It’s a difficult question to answer and it varies so much depending on the child and the circumstances.
We’ve all heard about Nature Deficit Disorder and are aware of the side effects of too much screen time. We know we need to try but its not easy is it? the TV is the perfect babysitter who doesn’t make any mess. Start slowly, change happens gradually. See a few positive results and you’ll be inspired to keep trying. Try some of the tips below to get you started.
7 Tips to reduce Screen time for kids
1) Delay Tactics.
This is one of my personal favourites: “Yes you can watch TV but only after the toys are cleared away”. I don’t have many rules in our house in fact this is probably the only one. TV only after a tidy up. I find that often the process of tidying up leads to a discovery of a toy or drawing they were doing and they get back into it for a while, delaying the need for a screen fix.
- 2)Try not to have it on indefinitely.
There is nothing that saps the energy of the room more than to have the TV running constantly in the background. Strike a deal that they are going the watch two of the scheduled programmes they like then turn it off. If you can utilise the recording facilities and that is their screen viewing for the day. It’s hard to implement the first time, but once they know you mean it they learn to mean it too.
3) Make an event of it.
This goes hand in hand with Tip 2, once you’ve decided to not have it on all the time, Make it something special and to be looked forward to. Pick a film, make popcorn and turn the lights down to get the cinema vibe going. If it’s a family film watch it together. It becomes something they remember more for the event done together rather than for the TV. I really enjoy these times.
Ok, so this is improving viewing rather than reducing it, but use it in conjunction with Tip 2 or 4. Wildlife programmes can have them enthralled for ages. Especially underwater ones as it’s a whole world that is new and contains all the character of great drama. Predators, gang members and floaty princess types. And the soft tones of David Attenborough’s narrative gently woos them.
Also, instructional videos go down well in our house. Often it answers the “How do they make…..such and such…? type questions. There is likely a YouTube video on most things and with a bit of selective planning you might find they can get the screen fix without it being full of adverts and cartoon characters.
A friend of mine loves this and it works well in their house. It’s especially good for households that have a dependence on all technology and not just the TV. 24 hours of TECH FREE time. TechNO Tuesday. The whole family is in on this one. All of a sudden you need to start playing games together, drawing, reading actual books (and not kindles). Think of it as special bonding time, and before long maybe you will all start to look forward to it.
Trip the switch at the fuse board. Extreme tactics and underhand I know, but sometimes it’s needed. The recent stormy weather meant power couldn’t be taken for granted and such excitement ensued when we had to prep all the torches, candles and cook on a camping stove. Going to bed with a torch to shine patterns on the ceiling had them amused til slumber overtook at which point the power can miraculously return.
7) Love something else.
As Sophie who wrote The Wonder Journal for us says “ They need to love something more than watching the television”. Work out what other things they love to do and allow them to do it. Maybe its art, maybe its making rocket ships from the recycling, looking for bugs in the bedroom or listening to CDs. Indulge that enthusiasm with them and let them explore it. Often defaulting to the TV is because they are bored or can’t be bothered to think of anything else, they can gradually discover something else if they are given the scope and facilities to do it.
It’s not easy this one and tends to be more messy, but then you instigate Tip number 1 when they have had enough and if they really want to watch the TV they earn it by tidying up. Heck! by then they probably deserve it and so do you.
The Smart Happy Project is a quality magazine of everything you want them to do before they turn on the TV. Sign up to membership with your email address in the link at the bottom to be kept updated on activities to keep them away from the TV. Please share this link with three friends. Thanks.