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A Parent’s Guide To Managing Screen Time

The holiday break is a great time to unwind, relax, and savor all the season’s festivities with our family and friends. It’s a welcomed time off from school, which our kids need and deserve! And hopefully, you’ll also get some much-needed time off from work! I’m sure most of our kids will be sleeping in until noon and doing whatever activities they love to do. And when they are home for these few weeks, it goes without saying that they will surely be spending a ton of time on their screens. This is to be expected because it’s how they connect with their friends and find lots of entertainment they enjoy. And let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that we moms like our screen time, too! 🙂

So how can we ensure our kids don’t spend every waking minute on their phones, chatting with friends or scrolling TikTok for hours on end? How do we set boundaries around their favorite way to spend time, whether it’s playing video games all day and night, constantly snapping with friends non-stop, or mindlessly scrolling through the endless stream of social media posts of all the people they follow?  

As with everything in our lives, we need to find a healthy balance for both our kids and us. We also want this season to be full of quality family time so we can enjoy one another without our screens interfering with all those special moments.

It’s so important that we enjoy some much-needed time with our kids without the constant distraction of them on their screens. That’s why I created a Parent’s Guide to Managing Screen Time with 13 effective strategies to help get your tween or teen to unplug during the holiday break! You also might want to consider permanently implementing some of these suggestions to help manage their screen time on a regular basis.

1. Set Clear Boundaries:

  • Start by establishing specific time limits for screen use each day. Open communication about these limits ensures that expectations are understood. Make sure to include them in the process by asking them what they think would be reasonable limits. When they have a say in the process, they will be more likely to adhere to the limits. It doesn’t mean you have to let them have 8 hours! Negotiate and come up with an agreement that everyone feels is reasonable.

2. Create a Screen-Free Zone:

  • Designate specific areas in your home, like the dining room or bedrooms, as screen-free zones. This encourages alternative activities in these spaces.

3. Lead by Example:

  • Model the behavior you want to see. Engage in non-screen activities, and your kids are more likely to follow suit.

4. Plan Outdoor Activities:

  • Combat the allure of screens by organizing outdoor excursions and activities. The possibilities are endless, whether it’s a nature walk, a picnic, or a bike ride.

5. Establish Tech-Free Times:

  • Designate specific times during the day when screens are off-limits. Meals and the hour before bedtime are excellent starting points.

6. Collaborative Screen Time Planning:

  • Involve your children in planning their screen time. This gives them a sense of responsibility and empowers them in the decision-making process.

7. Implement a Reward System:

  • Create a reward system tied to non-screen activities. This could include earning a late-night bedtime for younger tweens or a special meal or favorite dessert for adhering to screen time limits.

8. Encourage Hobbies:

  • Foster hobbies that don’t involve screens, like drawing, baking, working out, playing a musical instrument, or crafting. Unleash their creativity or get moving!

9. Family Game Nights:

  • Have family game nights where everyone is off their phones for a few hours while playing those old favorite board games or some of the new fun ones, too! 

10. It’s a Team Event:

  • Managing screen time is a collaborative effort. Lead by example, demonstrating positive behaviors that your children can emulate. This sets the tone and fosters inclusion and representation within the family.

12. Set a Screen Time Schedule:

  • Research suggests age-appropriate daily limits for screen time. Establish a schedule to make it clear when and where screens are permissible, avoiding their use during crucial times like family meals or the hour before bedtime.

13. Swap Screen Time for Other Activities:

  • Reduce screen time by replacing it with alternative activities. Encourage physical activity, outdoor recreation, or quality family time. This diversifies their engagement and uplifts the mood and energy levels of the entire family—a win-win for everyone!

Strike the perfect balance this holiday season by incorporating these strategies into your family routine. Keep this parent’s guide to managing screen time handy whenever you need to evaluate and implement some much-needed boundaries on your kid’s screens. For the upcoming weeks, I hope you can unplug, connect, and create lasting memories that extend beyond the glow of your screens. Happy holidays!

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