Have you ever noticed that after your kids have sat in front of the TV for a while, they turn into cranky zombies?
Research says that kids under the age of 6 watch about two hours of media a day – primarily on the TV. Children between 8 and 18 years old spend twice that in front of a TV and additional two hours in front of a computer. Some kids log enough hours in front of screens that it clocks into roughly the time investment of a part-time job!
However, this isn’t the way it has to be. Doing a screen detox can improve the mood of your children, increase engagement and activity, and improve sleep and performance at school.
How do you get started?
Step 1: Go cold turkey for a week
This can be hard, especially for older children that are used to a constant presence of screens in their lives. However, after about a couple of days children will start to find alternatives to watching TV or playing video games.
Step 2: Model the behaviour you want to see.
It’s important to walk the walk in front of your children. If they see that you can also put down your phone or turn off the TV, they’ll be less likely to fight you.
Step 3: Find alternative activities.
Parents need to be WELL PREPARED if this is going to work & the more screen time they were allowed the harder it's going to be so be ready to spend some extra quality time & be sure to have a list of alternative activities up your sleeve such as ....
- board games
- construction games & challenges with KICKBricks ;-)
- sports in the garden
- adventure walks / Hide & seek
- cooking together
- skate park
- arts & crafts
- Paid chores
- Prepare practical joke for Mum or Dad!!
- outings & maybe some fast food & ice cream money (it'll be worth it though & you'll create some great memories)
One of the reasons our children (and ourselves) turn to screen is because it’s habit. When you take it away, it’s easy to feel lost. The key is to offer plenty of alternatives!
Step 4: Set boundaries.
After the week or whenever you are ready to reintegrate screens back into your lives, it’s important to set boundaries that will work for your family. That might mean a ban on screens during the week, or a set limit such as 90 minutes after homework or reading time, but find a balance that works for you & make sure that the kids agree to that time in advance (so they can't complain when it's time to stop)
Good luck team.
Have you done a digital detox? How did it go for your family? I'd love to hear about the good & the bad experiences...