• Kristin Hankins

Tips for Limiting Screentime

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

One of my biggest pieces of advice when it comes to raising readers is to limit screen time. If family habits have already been formed it can be difficult to instate new limits on screen exposure. However, it's just a matter of changing habits, and I promise, it can be done!

Most people have already heard the recommendation to not expose children under the age of 2 to screens. As a mom to 5, I know how tough this can be! But I also know that the habits we allow are going to follow our children throughout their lives. Screen addiction is real, and we certainly don't want that happening to our toddlers! Here are some tips for occupying your toddlers throughout the day without the use of screens:

  • Make a shopping list with pictures to the grocery store along with a crayon and allow your child to mark off what he or she finds

  • Play "eye-spy" anywhere and everywhere; identify objects of different colors all around you.

  • Hunt for shapes ("I see something that's in the shape of a circle!" - Let them look for it!)

  • Take stickers and sticker books to restaurants in case the children's menus are not entertaining

  • Ask your child questions about the way he or she sees world around him or her ("What is your favorite thing to do outside?" "What kinds of things do you see when you look in the sky?" "Did you do anything fun today?" "If you could pick any food to eat all day long, what would it be?")

  • Begin stories for your child to finish ("Once upon a time, there was a princess who wanted to ...")

  • Talk to your child about what you're doing.

  • You can say aloud all of the steps you take to bake muffins, switch laundry, sweep, and more.

  • Let your child play with normal household objects, like measuring cups, muffin pans, spoons, and more when you make dinner.

  • Read books throughout the day. Spend a few minutes with each one. Talk about the pictures. Describe what you see by naming colors, size, etc. Ask what might happen next.

Toddlers aren't the only age group we should be concerned about. Students between the ages of 8-18 on average watch 4 and a half hours of TV every day. Our teens are sending 118 text messages each day which amounts to 90 minutes* of texting daily. All of this connectedness and screen time affects our kids’ thinking and creativity and the constant stimulation debilitates their brain function. Screens literally rewire our brains. We can't focus and we have shorter attention spans. We are less interested in just about anything else in the world around us.

Personally, we have decided against our children having personal or handheld screens aside from basic Kindles for books only. We don't allow screen time at all Monday through Thursday. Many Fridays when we don't have sports, we will have a family movie night. On Saturday and Sunday, our kids are limited to two hours and they have to choose between video games, shows, or a movie. I know for many this sounds extreme, but we have found that more than this leads to disobedience, hyperactivity, inattention, and self-centeredness. Limiting screens during the week frees up my children to be more creative, interact with one another or friends outside, explore, read, and more. Here are some things my big kids do in their free time during the week:

  • Shoot hoops outside

  • Ride bikes, scooters, or skate

  • Draw with chalkPuzzles (together or on their own)

  • Board games together

  • Use a drawing book and practice new drawings

  • Color

  • Cut and paste (all the things)

  • Hand sew and crochet

  • Make up stories and write "books"

  • Write and act out plays together

If you have questions about this or ideas of your own to share, leave a comment. I would love to hear!

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