In today’s world, we are seeing more of our lives turn digital. Even our children are becoming more dependent on the digital world whether it be in their learning or their playtime.
With that in mind, we have created a shortlist of helpful ways that you can reduce the screen time of your children.
Excessive screen time is harmful.
Research has shown that children spend more time using electronic media devices and the trend is increasing. On average, children spend seven hours a day across all age groups.
According to studies, excessive screen time can lead to:
- inadequate sleep
- poor grades
- a greater risk of obesity.
There are also psychological tolls on children including:
- Teens becoming more than twice as likely to have depression
- Some individuals suffering from anxiety
How do you reduce screen time?
As parents, you can help children reduce screen time through the following:
Set time limits (and be firm about it)
Make sure that you set time limits for your children. Whether it is an hour on and an hour off some other pattern, see that it makes sense for everyone and can be monitored effectively.
When you set the time limits, let the children know about it, and make sure that you stick to the rules and be consistent.
As tempting as it may be to give in to your children when they beg, whine, and cry, you must stick to the time limits that you have set.
Listen to their frustrations
Parents should rely on Mark 9:36, 37 where the Bible shares that “He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.’”
This should be an important guideline to follow when listening to your children’s frustrations about their gadget time. Welcome their thoughts and make sure that your children feel that they are heard.
Set an example
Some parents tend to forget that the best way to teach their children about something is by setting an example and “practicing what they preach.”
As such, you should be consistent and be accountable to your children and yourself.
If you are trying to teach your children about using fewer gadgets, you should provide other alternative activities and get involved in them yourself.
You should prepare outside activities. See to it that your children are exposed to opportunities to explore the outdoors, which will affect their view of the world.
Let your children see that there is much more to life than what they see on screen. Check out the outdoor activities from Creation Illustrated and discover why the activities work. Let your children see that the world around them is friendly, interesting, and worth exploring.
No screens in your children’s room
It is necessary to make sure that screen time is not a temptation—even when you are not looking.
Recent studies have shown that children who have a television or a mobile device in their bedrooms end up being online too much. This affects their sleeping patterns, their social skills, as well as their physical condition.
Children who have been exposed to blue light emissions too late at night have patterns in their sleep-wake cycles that are not good for their health.
As parents, you can insist that screens are not allowed in the bedroom.
Subscribe to Child-Friendly Magazines
There are a lot of magazines out there that can provide learning content for your children without the risks involved with electronic screens. Child-friendly magazines, coloring books, and activity books are available online for you to order.
Creation Illustrated magazine is the perfect example of this kind of publication that offers subscriptions as an alternative to screen time while providing positive nature experiences surrounded by stunning photography. You can enhance your reading as well as your children’s reading by making sure that they read content that is appropriate for them.
Have an open relationship with your child
Setting limits with your child on their screen time, choosing what they are exposed to, and changing your wifi service are some initial steps that you can take. The most important step that you should take is knowing what your child is viewing at all times.
Before cutting them off from certain content, explain and discuss the situation and rationale with them. Here are a few questions to talk about. Why is the thing that they are viewing bad for them? What kind of material and choices will be beneficial to them? Why are you taking all of these steps for them? Let them know that you love them and want the best for them, and you are not just placing restrictions to frustrate them. Pray together to let the Holy Spirit and God’s will have things their way, which takes the personal surrender of the will.
Be ready for the adjustment
If your children have already been too exposed to screens and gadgets, you have to be prepared for the inevitable—the cranky adjustment period. While you are in this specific period, you can expect that your child will not be open and willing to adjust and will likely resist any changes or rules.
Always be patient with your children. Let them know that what you are doing is not for your benefit or pleasure but theirs. Help them make it their idea to do better so that the choice becomes their own.
Think like a child and understand their challenges. In Matthew 18:1-5, the Bible shares: “He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
This shows that you are open to putting yourself in the position of the child. What would you do if your gadgets were taken away from you? It is important to know the answer to this so you can put yourself in the shoes of your children and let them know you understand that changes can be difficult.