7 Tips for Reducing Your Child’s Screen Time

7 Tips for Reducing Your Child’s Screen Time

7 Tips for Reducing Your Child’s Screen Time

No matter where we go or what we do, it seems like screens are everywhere. But while some screen time can be beneficial for children, too much can slow their development and lead to poor mental health.

As a general rule, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • No screen time for children under 2
  • One hour of non-educational screen time per day for children aged 2-12
  • Two hours of non-educational screen time per day for teens and adults

However, research shows that most American children spend around 5-7 hours a day in front of a screen!

Figuring out how to limit screen time can be tough. That’s why we’ve put together seven top tips that make limiting screen time for kids a breeze.


Understanding the benefits and problems of screen time

Parents looking for ways to reduce screen time always have the best intentions at heart. But it’s important to recognize that not all screen time is made equal. In fact, there are plenty of times when screen time can be good for your kids. For example:

  • Creative, stimulating video games like Minecraft help children to expand their imagination, and teach important soft skills like perseverance and problem-solving
  • High-quality, age-appropriate TV programs and YouTube channels can be a great source of educational content
  • Using a laptop or other device to produce rather than consume media by writing, drawing, creating music, or editing photos and videos stimulates a child’s mind
  • Digital devices allow kids to chat and play with their friends even when they’re at home, giving them another channel for improving their social skills

However, excessive screen time – particularly regular exposure to poor-quality content – is proven to seriously impact mental and physical health at all ages. Overuse of screens and digital devices has been linked to:

  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Poor sleep health and sleep hygiene
  • Behavioral and attention problems
  • Poor development of language and social skills
  • A reduction in time spent on learning and growth

When it comes to young children in particular, unstructured play is much better for brain development than electronic media. Kids under 2 learn much better when they interact and play with parents, siblings, peers, and other adults and children.

Once a child reaches 2 years old, they can really benefit from programming that emphasizes music, movement, and stories. By watching these programs with your child, you can help them to understand what they see and apply it to real life. But even as children become more able to engage with digital media, screen time should never replace reading, playing, and problem-solving activities.


pioneering structures


How to reduce screen time for kids


1) Lead by example

As a parent, you are the primary model for your child’s behavior. So if you tend to leave the TV on all day and constantly scroll through your phone, you encourage them to do the same. This creates bad habits that can stay with your children for life. 

The best advice for limiting screen time for kids is to model the behavior you want them to follow. This also applies to any rules you set. Asking your children to reduce their screen time while you continue to use your devices freely can be frustrating and confusing for them. No matter how you try to reduce your child’s screen time, always lead by example.


2) Become tech savvy

Kids today grow up in a world of technology. So after a certain age, it’s very likely they’ll know it much better than you!

If you try to regulate media that you don’t understand, it’s easy for kids to feel like you’re being overbearing rather than supportive. For example, you can’t talk to your kids about the risks of social media unless you know what platforms are popular. And you can’t guide them towards constructive video games, TV programs, or YouTube channels without experiencing them for yourself.

Before you can talk to your kids about technology and model good behaviors, you need to become a tech-savvy parent.


3) Explain why you’re limiting screen time

Even if you’re looking for ways to limit screen time, your kids might have friends who are allowed to use digital devices as much as they like. If your kids don’t know why the rules are different for them, they’ll be more likely to resist and act out.

By talking to your kids about the benefits and problems with screen time – and modeling good behaviors – it’s easier for them to understand the rules you set. That means they’re much more likely to stick to your rules and develop good physical and mental health habits that don’t involve screens.


4) Make certain rooms tech free

A great technique for limiting screen time for kids is to establish areas in your home where digital devices simply aren’t allowed. That includes cell phones, handheld video game consoles, tablets, and laptops. Your dining room and kitchen, for example, are great as tech-free zones. Try using these rooms for meals and family conversation only.

Another important room to keep free of technology is the bedroom. Blue light from digital screens is one of the leading causes of inadequate sleep, which can have a severe impact on your child’s health and development. Don’t allow any TVs or games consoles in your child’s bedroom, and encourage them to leave their cell phone outside, too.


5) Schedule time with no screens

Setting aside time when the whole family puts away their screens gives you a great opportunity to spend quality time together. Day to day, this could include meal times and one or two hours before bed (which can also help improve your children’s sleep). Evenings are also a great time to get stuck into some fun and competitive board games or puzzles!

On weekends or days off, you could use your time to go on a hike or spend the day exploring nearby towns. And longer term, you could plan a total digital detox while on vacation or during the school break.


6) Use parental controls or apps

The key to keeping up good habits is consistency. But between work, homemaking, childcare, and your other responsibilities, it can be difficult to make good on your own commitments. And once screen time starts to slip in, it’s hard to cut back!

To help you ration daily screen time, use the parental controls on your family’s internet, TV, and smartphones. If your devices don’t have the control setting you need, you can also install apps that lock your device after a certain amount of time.


pioneering plants


7) Provide other engaging activities

Limiting screen time for kids shouldn’t be about taking things away. It should be about opening them up to new experiences.

Reading, writing, drawing, listening to music, dancing, theater, and playing sports are all fantastic activities that help kids express themselves and develop new skills. And there are plenty of toys and activity kits that you can buy to engage your children while teaching them something new.

STEAMbright activity kits, for example, teach your kids about science, technology, art, and math with hands-on, all-inclusive activities that get them solving real-world problems. Each kit helps young learners develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, all while exploring fundamental concepts that will help them in later life. And while some parents and schools use them as educational tools, kids also love to play with them just for fun

One of our most popular activity kits is the STEAM Builder Bin. With dozens of parts, hundreds of possible builds, and 15 open-ended activity cards, the STEAM Builder Bin challenges and engages kids with a diverse set of problems to solve. As they progress through each difficulty level, they practice art, reading, imagination, and STEM for self-paced mastery of the engineering design process!


Give the gift of a brand new hobby

Our team of education experts works hard to produce STEAM learning activity kits for all ages and interests. That’s how we’ve produced fun, hands-on, age-appropriate lines such as:

Visit the STEAMbright online store today to pick out an exciting activity kit that helps your kids grow, learn, and enjoy their time away from the screen!