This is the third and last in the current series about screen time. Today, I’m looking at how you can reduce screen time by setting some boundaries in the family.
Screens were an invaluable support for over-stretched parents during lockdown. But now that we are re-emerging many parents feel stuck with screen-time habits they never intended their children to have.
If this is you, I understand your concern. We know that six and seven year olds are being treated for addiction to YouTube these days, so I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to see screen-use as a health and safety issue, which requires us to set boundaries, as we would for any health and safety issue.
Watch the video or scroll down to read more…
Of course, if your children love their screens they’ll probably resist when you try to set limits.
But if they can connect with you and there are alternative things to do, this will definitely help the process – and prevent it feeling like a punishment.
Here are three ways to create boundaries:
#1 – Limit your own screen use
The reason for this is that your children take their cue from you, so the way you use your phone teaches them how to relate to screens.
If you want to explore this further, Cal Newport is a great author who goes into some depth about the why and how of weaning ourselves off screens.
#2 – Create physical boundaries
The simplest boundaries are physical.
Consider how you could arrange things so that screens or remotes aren’t always available for your children. Contain the devices so that they’re not visible, or so that children can’t take them to their rooms.
This is a good start.
#3 – Agree limits on screen time in the family
It’s a three step process:.
- Before you talk to the children, think about the amount of screen time you want them to have. Consider when you want them to have it, and how you want to spread it out through the week. What’s the best time for your family and for your children? What will work best for you?
- The next step is to have a conversation with your children – and I’ll give you some tips for that in a moment.
- The third step is to help the children stick to what they’ve agreed to. Just because you’ve agreed something with them does not mean that they’re going to be able to stick with it.
This is a really important step because you and your kids may have different points of view, but you can still have a helpful conversation with them about it, in which their points of view are respected.
Here are four steps to help this conversation go well.
- Make the conversation light and fun. You can have some props to help you do this. Maybe put snacks on the table and/or have someone take notes. Try using a talking stick or spoon, so that only the person holding it can speak. Making your conversation fun will help the outcome!
- Include your children’s points of view in this conversation. This is the most important step. For example, one of them might say they want to watch cartoons all evening. That’s a valid point of view, so take that seriously – perhaps by writing it down. Taking their view seriously doesn’t mean you’re going to allow them to do that. It just means you notice and validate their point of view when they’re expressing it.
- Give them brief reasons why you want to reduce or limit screen time. You may want to do a bit of research online so that you’ve got some science there to back you up. Give them a brief summary of your reasons and be honest with them.
- Work out a plan together, while knowing that a plan is not going to be enough – on its own. After you’ve created your plan, you’ll be there to help the children to stick to it!
If you would like further help with this, you’re welcome to book yourself a FREE Happier Way Forward Session with me. I release a limited amount of them every month.
I’d be delighted to speak with you about how you can set screen time limits in your family, and anything else that you would like to change and improve in your family’s life.
Solve the Struggle with Your Kids
The 6 Wise Parenting Powers
Download my no cost guide to raising a secure and happy family.