I’d read all the articles, but it wasn’t until I noticed how angry my son was getting when we told him screen time was up that I knew we had to take action.
I don’t think there’s a parent in Australia who doesn’t worry about the amount of screen time their kids are getting. It’s not just the television, though. Between iGadgets, the Wii, computers and [insert screen of choice here], the amount of time spent in front of the actual TV seems trivial.
Here are four things we do at our place to reduce screen time:
Set up a screen timetable
Each child gets one hour of television six days a week, and three extra half hours per week that they can allocate to whatever screen they like. We set a timer to ensure that each person knows when their time is up. To ignore the timer is to give up screens for a whole week. Avoid fights over the television for the hour that it’s on by allocating each child a day that they choose the programming.
Sundays are screen free
No exceptions. The television and all computer devices stay off for the day. This actually eventuated when I realised that, with three kids, when I allocated the ‘scheduling’ to each child, there was a day left over at the end of the week. It works beautifully.
It’s the strangest thing. On sunny days our aerial breaks, which means the television doesn’t work at all. The sun burns the aerial on the roof, you see (just switch it off at the power point!). Cue very serious mission outside to observe the poor old aerial. What’s left to do but stay outside and enjoy the sunshine?
Counteracting the dreaded “I’m bored” factor
You’ll need good strategies to keep from giving in. Kids can be rather insistent devils when they really want something. The trick is to have lots of ideas up your sleeve for the inevitable whines. Make a list of 20 things you know your children like to do that don’t involve a screen and give them a gentle reminder of them when they complain. Depending on their ages, there are loads of resources, whether places to visit or creative things to do at home, to help you out.