How to Limit Your Children’s Screen Time Without Stealing Their Joy

by - April 06, 2020


Article written by Kristin Louis


Kids spend a lot of time in front of a screen these days. In fact, children and teens between 8- and 18-years-old average more than seven hours of screen time a day. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), that number should be closer to two hours a day. And for children 2- to 5-years-old, screen time should be limited to one hour a day. 

When children devote too much time in front of a phone, tablet, computer, television, or any other kind of electronic screen, it can negatively affect everything from their sleep to their academic performance to their physical, social and behavioral well-being. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of practical ways to limit and monitor your children’s screen time. So, let’s take a look at a few of these methods, as well as some digital-free alternatives:

Allocating Screen Time 

First of all, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to completely deprive your kids of using electronics at home. That would be stealing their joy, and you don’t want to do that! It is important, however, that you set guidelines for screen time each day. 

For instance, you could allow your kids to watch TV or play their video games for an hour after they do their homework or after dinner. Or, you could give them an hour of screen time to use as they please.

If your child really loves to do activities on a tablet or smartphone, you can find ways to sneak some learning into this time. For example, there are many online lessons that will help teach math in practical, real-life ways, as well as apps that can help your child learn a new language

The sky’s pretty much the limit when it comes to educational software; find what your child responds to and try to find something that scratches that particular itch.

However you decide to do it, it’s essential that you stay firm in your time limit, no matter how much they beg you or charm you. Just keep reminding yourself that, later on, you’ll be thankful you stayed strong!

Team Sports

One of the best alternatives to screen time for children is getting them involved in team sports. There are many health, social, and behavioral benefits of playing team sports. They provide kids with the opportunity to develop essential life skills, healthy habits, self-discipline, and responsibility, among many other things. 

Also, they can go a long way in improving self-esteem. It might take trying out a few sports before your children find ones that they like, so instead of buying all new gear and equipment, consider getting second-hand or discounted items on sites such as eBay. 

Viewing Shows and Games with Your Child 

Another approach is to make the most of your children’s screen time by viewing content with them. Whether it’s a TV show, video game, or anything else, consider watching and playing with your children every now and then. 

This can provide an opportunity to critically think about and discuss the content, and it also allows you to see exactly what kind of stuff your children are watching/playing. With this approach, perhaps your children will think about what you would say if you're not there viewing the content with them. 

Removing Devices from the Bedroom

Finally, consider taking all electronic screens out of your children’s bedrooms. This way, a TV, computer, tablet, smartphone, or another device won’t be part of their nighttime routine. 

This can help them sleep better, and it will give them a chance to form new routines such as reading, journaling, doing puzzles, and doing other digital-free activities. 

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Limiting your children’s screen time can benefit their overall health and well-being in profound ways. However, it’s up to you to come up with a daily time limit — and be sure to enforce it. Encourage your kids to try team sports, and find affordable gear and equipment on sites like eBay. 

Lastly, actively engage with your children on the content they’re watching and playing, and consider removing electronic screens from their bedroom.

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About the Author

Kris is the writer behind the parenting blog Parenting with Kris. She has been writing articles summarizing the findings of screen-time studies for parents and offering some alternatives to screen time for young children. She uses her family’s experience, as well as the research she has personally done on the subject.

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