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We all know just how much time staring at our phones and tablets can rip away from us! Even as adults and parents, we worry just how much time we sink into the little world our screens show us, and forget to interact with the world around us. It’s a habit a lot of us are trying to break! 

But for kids, screen time can be incredibly addictive. They probably don’t realize just how much time they’re spending playing video games or watching Youtube videos, but sometimes you may go nearly a whole day without even speaking to them! The moment you realize that, it can make you feel pretty bad as a parent. 

Which is why instituting healthy screen time rules within your household is essential. Exercising control over your children’s screen time helps to keep them safe when using the internet, as well as limits the amount of screen exposure they have during the week. But don’t let these rules just be for the kids – lead by example for the best results! 

Eating with no screen

No Screens While Eating

This should be a rule in every household! If you regularly eat your family meals round a table, but everyone still has their phone or a tablet in front of them, no one is really going to want to talk to each other. 

Similarly, if the adults are talking but the kids get a tablet to watch, they’re going to grow up thinking they’re not allowed to take part in the conversation. At the very least, they’re going to have absolutely no interest in trying to make conversation, which can end up seriously damaging their social skills. 

So keep the screens off and away while you eat. Get comfortable with silence as you all get used to the change, and then suggest a few topics of conversation to get everyone going. If you need to, you could even use an improv game to encourage people to speak up and say what they’re really thinking. 

Limit the Internet Connection

If you don’t want your kids having too much access to the online world, as this can be hard to monitor, limit the internet connection on any devices they have access to. Head into the settings, turn off the wifi, and then use parental controls to make sure it can’t be turned on again. 

If you’re worried your child won’t have anything to do without a wifi connection, they can still have fun with their phone or tablet! All you need to do is download some favorite games like minesweeper to the system, as well as a few fun and kid friendly videos that you’ve already vetted. You can also grab a few educational apps while you’re in the App Store or on Google Play, so your child can both have fun and learn at the same time. Then all you need to do is remove the wifi connection. 

This can also prevent a child from accidentally spending a lot of money on your credit or debit card in microtransactions. Without wifi, the games aren’t connected to an online server that has the chance to take your money with just a few taps of a button. 

Install a Creative Suite

This can be as simple as Microsoft Office, meaning your child can use Word to write up their stories and character sheets, or it can mean paying for an Adobe subscription and learning the ins and outs of graphic design together. 

If the kids already love coloring, crafts, and dressing up their dolls, they’re going to love a program that allows them to draw, create, and edit scenes straight out of their own imaginations. 

Not only does this give them more to do than just surf the internet, but it provides them with an incredibly transferable skill to take into the workplace one day. If they know how to use editing suites from a young age, any new software that comes out will be a lot easier to master. That can make for a very polished resume in the future. 

watching movie together

Have a Weekly Family Movie Night

Weekly family movie nights keep screens as a big part of your lives, but it ensures a screen isn’t the only thing you’re willing to pay attention to! It makes the big TV screen in the living room much more of a privilege to use, and not just something normal to switch on when there’s nothing else to do. 

Family movie nights can be a lot of fun as well. Take it in turns to pick a movie to watch, then take it in turns to suggest and prepare the snacks, and then sit down together and sink some time into a fun film. You can talk about it as it goes on, or you can choose to sit in silence and then talk after – it’s up to you, as long as it’s fun! 

Encourage Reading Instead of Watching

Using a screen doesn’t have to be all about watching something. You can use screens to read as well, with plenty of e-books able to download from apps that come pre-installed on phones and tablets. If the kids find the medium of a screen more approachable than others, such as a paperback book with physical pages to turn, encourage them to read using it. 

Once again you can download a few books you think they’d like and then turn the wifi off, making sure they have some space and peace to enjoy the novel. And if you’re worried about the effectiveness of this habit, here’s one thing to keep in mind: most kids love to read when they’re given the chance to!

Healthy screen time habits are possible! You just need to come up with some well-made rules for both adults and kids to follow. Use the tips above to get the ball rolling; we all need to use screens from time to time, but we don’t have to feel like they suck us in! 

reading book with text overlay

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