According to screenfree.org “Regardless of content, excessive screen time changes children’s fundamental connection to the world. It deprives them of hands-on creative play—the foundation of learning, creativity, constructive problem solving, and the capacity to wrestle with life to make it meaningful.”

As parents of a busy modern world, we’re all guilty of enjoying the free time we get from kids chilling out in front of screens. For those of you who want to decrease screen time over the holidays – or permanently - we put together a list of tips & tricks to help you navigate your way through reducing time spent on screens.

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# How to approach the kids about it?

"This isn’t a punishment, this is because we care about you"
Sometimes screens may be taken way as a consequence to certain behaviour, so how do we take screens away from children when they haven’t behaved badly? How do we make screen free time feel like an act of love, rather than feeling like a punishment?
Your child’s age can determine your approach.
For older children, sitting them down to explain your concern over the effects of too much screen time can help them to understand your motivation to reduce it in the first place. For example, explaining that playing video games with violent content can desensitise some people from violence in real life - is a concept that age appropriate children can often understand. While with little ones, you may try to help them identity that too much screen time sometimes makes them feel cranky or frustrated, so less screen time will actually make them feel happier on the inside.

# Cold Turkey or reduced scheduled time?


It really depends on what will be the best adjustment for your household, or how out of hand screen use has become. To begin with, Cold Turkey might be the best approach for a certain period of time, after which, an agreed amount of time per week or on weekends can be re-introduced. Ultimately the amount of time suitable for each child & household will be personal and something that you as a parent can decide alone, or decide to involve the kids in.

# Pressure from Peers?

You might be surprised that your child actually begins to feel happier & less frustrated once they have settled into screen free time. When it comes to other children, sometimes all it takes is one child to lead the way for others. Encourage your child to share if they feel better when queried by other kids. You might be pleasantly surprised that other kids are willing to take up some screen free time too.

# How to say no to other parents and carers?
Just say no. You don’t need to explain your choices to those who you think won’t understand. A simple response can be something like “we are doing a screen free month to become more engaged with one another”. Who can argue with that?
Those who will support you, will probably say good on you and also might be inspired to try some screen free time at home too.
 
What to do instead of screens?
  1. Whether it be as simple as dinner each night together, board games on Tuesdays or baking on Thursdays, having ‘scheduled’ screen free time together can help make the transition easier.
  2. Get crafty: For children who enjoy crafts, have a dedicated space within the home that they can easily access. Simple activities like making birthday cards, necklaces, creating their own comic books or plain old colouring in can keep them cleverly occupied.
  3. Get them cooking with you: We aren’t running hotels – we’re running homes, and children should be learning how to help around the kitchen with meal preparation, baking for school snacks and helping with meal time clean-up. Not only will this provide screen free time - it will provide them with important life skills and be an activity where you can enjoy more bonding time with one another.
  4. Music: Playing music in the home can encourage little ones to have fun with song & dance. Music creates a feel good vibe and also occupies the empty sound space that TVs often fill.
  5. Reading Nooks & Puzzle Corners: Good for their brain & good for their imagination! A trip to the library or second hand book store is a great way to re-introduce kids to the wonder of reading.
  6. Get into Nature: Schedule outdoor time for kids, go on a hike, bush walk, or beach walk together. Encourage them to spend time playing outdoors with other kids in the neighbourhood.
  7. Create outdoor activities: Scavenger hunts, kite flying, or creating their own obstacle courses – they are only limited by their own imaginations.
  8. Screen-free holidays: If you’re travelling with the kids, leave the devices at home. They’ll experience their new surrounds so much better without the distraction of screens.
  9. Museums & Art Galleries: A great place to enjoy together, learn and stimulate their minds.
  10. Inspire the kid-preneur inside: Whether they want to sell old toys, seedlings or their own crafts at the local market – it’s never too early to help children explore their entrepreneurial streak.

 Happy Holidays!

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