This is the year to learn how to get kids off screens…and enrich their lives.
You can say a lot of things about 2020.
Most of us gained some weight.
We saved money on gas and clothes, I would imagine.
Aaaand our kids had more screen time than ever before.
I get it. That’s how kids communicate these days.
And staring at the walls of your house day in and day out gets boring even for us parents.
But as much as we’d like to believe that those calories didn’t count during quarantine, my cholesterol levels say differently.
And as much as we’d like to believe that kids can cope with tons of screen time, their behavior shows what’s really going on in those rapidly growing brains of theirs.
And it’s not good.
Which is why one of my big family goals for 2021 is less screen time.
How To Make Less Screen Time Work
A long time ago, I noticed that the more video games my sons played, the angrier they became.
Not just because I told them to turn it off.
No, that anger lasted for a long time after the power button went dark. Sometimes for hours.
As they got older, and more screens came into their lives, it just got worse.
Here are some of the things we’ve already done to limit screen time, especially for our younger kids. (We have 6, ages 1 to 17, just for reference.)
Simple Ways To Limit Screen Time
Put a password on anything that will take one.
In our home, Kindle Fires were the first tablets our kids got. It didn’t take long to realize they were very sneaky with those tablets.
I’d be lulled into enjoying a quiet house, and sometimes it took me some time to become suspicious about that quiet.
Sure enough, it always meant that at least one child was hiding in a corner, playing on the tablet. Again.
When I realized we could put a pin on the tablet, that was a game changer. Now the kids couldn’t use them without my permission no matter how they tried!
(You will want to make sure they don’t watch over your shoulder.)
We also keep our WiFi password a secret, which further limits both access on screens we know they have…and any screens friends have given to them secretly.
Even our TV has password protection on the HDMI function so they can’t get on the Xbox without permission.
In an effort to protect our kids from the internet, we don’t allow our younger kids to have a phone of any sort. They don’t really need it.
Once they’re in 7th grade, we get them a phone. After years of searching, we finally found a “dumb phone” that doesn’t connect to the internet. Hooray!
It’s called a Gabb phone, and it’s the perfect compromise. The kids can talk and text with their buddies, but they can’t send photos or other things that tend to get kids into trouble.
Check out the Gabb phone here. Monthly service is just $20! And you can use this link to get an extra $10 off the already affordable phones.
When they’re in high school, we let our kids use a smart phone.
At this age, we still monitor their usage. It’s just too easy for kids to get in real trouble with unlimited internet usage.
So we use Bark. It’s the compromise between us taking the phone and reading everything on it and the kids having complete privacy.
Alternatives To Screen Time
The best defense is a good offense, which is why we try to be proactive about the screens our kids have access to in the first place.
But there are other ways to keep them away from screens, too!
And I’m going to find the best alternatives to screen time as we go through 2021.
So keep an eye out here for all the ideas we try. I’ll share what works and what flops.
And you can see which methods might work best for your family.
Sign up here for all the less screen time ideas we try this year. Plus, you’ll get a freebie checklist for screen time you can start using right away!
Together, we can make 2021 more about family, less about being screened out zombies. (Because I would love to break my own screen habit, too!)
Are you in?