When we think about screen time, we often think of our kids and the dependence they have on their smartphones and game consoles. However, screen time is actually a problem for most of us. Adults are just as dependant on the screens they use, be that their laptops for work, their phones for social media, and their televisions for evening binge-watching!
In short, screen time can be a problem for all of us, and if this is true in your family, then this article is probably for you.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of screen time. It’s nice to unwind in front of the TV in the evening. And if your kids regularly let you know that they are bored, it’s perfectly acceptable to allow them to have virtual adventures within the games they play. But it has to be a balance. Too much screen time can lead to fewer social opportunities for everybody, and it can limit the amount of family get-togethers you have too. Health issues can also arise, including those that are linked to a sedentary lifestyle.
So, while we aren’t saying you should ban screens in your home, it’s probably a good idea to limit screen time if you think it might be an issue for your family. In this article, we will give you some suggestions to help you do just that!
1: Take up a family hobby together to reduce screen time
You don’t necessarily need a family hobby to limit screen time. If you could all find individual hobbies, then that is equally as fine too. However, if you can do something together, you will all have the incentive to stick at something as you could encourage one another to take part. You will encourage family bonding too.
What could you do? Well, check out these family hobbies that can be carried out in the home. These could replace evenings in front of the TV. You could also do something outside of the home, such as gardening, geocaching, or something that is sporty.
2: Plan more social occasions
Social occasions went out the window because of the pandemic but as things are starting to settle now, you could start inviting your friends around again. Of course, precautions should still be put in place, so you might not rule out social distancing entirely. But provided you and your guests are careful, you could all benefit from more get-togethers.
What could you do together? Well, you probably don’t need us to tell you as you may have ideas based on things you have done in the past. But as examples, you could hold dinner parties, play murder mystery games, or do things out of the home, such as going to the theatre. Think about the same for your kids and their friends. If you could plan things for them to do that don’t involve screens, they will also be distracted from their phones and other devices.
3: Have a ‘no phone rule’ for certain times of the day
As we suggested, we can all become a little too reliant on our phones. A glance out of your window will show you the extent of this problem, as we can guarantee more people than not will be looking down at their phones as they are walking by. Well, unless you live miles away from anywhere, of course!
To get around this problem in your home, you should set a ‘no phone rule’ for people in your family to follow. You could insist on this at mealtimes, for example, as you would then have more opportunities for family conversations and banter. You might also insist on this during the hour before bedtime, partly because screen time is known to disrupt sleep patterns according to studies. The ‘no phone rule’ can also be extended outside of the home, perhaps when you’re on family walks or doing other forms of activity.
4: Don’t watch TV in bed
Do you have a TV in your bedroom? Many of us do but as we suggested in the last point, this can be problematic as far as getting to sleep is concerned. It can also be an issue for your kids if they have a TV in their rooms. Of course, we aren’t only talking about TV’s here, as other devices can be used to watch films and programmes. Many people use their phones and tablet devices to catch up with the shows that are on their watchlists, for example.
Instead of watching a screen at bedtime, read a book, a magazine, or write into a journal. You could lie back and listen to music too. Your kids could do the same, or you might allow them to sit in bed with a puzzle or a game, provided they weren’t part of any type of screen.
5: Designate a screen-free area in the home
Screens are a constant distraction. In one room, there might be a TV. In another, there might be a laptop or desktop computer. And in another, there might be another TV with a games console attached. When you are surrounded by screens, the more likely you are to get sucked in by them. The same applies to the other people in your home.
To counter this problem, designate a screen-free area in your home. If you have a spare room, this is ideal, as you could fill it with books, board games, and things that can be associated with a creative hobby. The more appealing it is the more likely people are to step foot in there. You could also insist that your family use this together at certain points in the week. If you don’t have a spare room, look for a corner of your home where other activities can be located. And remove screens where they aren’t needed, such as a TV if you have one in the dining room or kitchen area. The fewer screens there are in your house the better.
6: Remove unnecessary apps
If your phone is overloaded with apps, remove anything that you don’t really need. Especially if they suck up too much of your time, it’s probably best that they weren’t on your phone at all. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have games and other leisure-based apps on your phone. But not only will you run out of space on your phone, but you will run out of time in the day if you are fixated on every one of them.
When you remove apps from your phone (and your other devices), you will have less incentive to look at your screen. The same applies to other members of your family. Admittedly, getting your kids to delete their apps might be a struggle, especially if they have such things as Roblox which can be quite addictive. But you can at least try, perhaps by explaining that their devices will run better if they aren’t overloaded with games and other applications.
Screen time isn’t always a bad thing, as we suggested at the beginning. But because screens can be both a distraction and a potential health hazard, we should all do what we can to limit our time on them. We hope our ideas in this article were useful to you but there may be other things you could try. Speak to your friends and extended family members and if they have found ways to tackle screen time, learn from their good ideas too.
Take care and thanks for reading!