Children's Development

How to Encourage Less Screen Time

Today’s parents and educators have the complex task of teaching children to navigate the digital world, while offering rich childhood experiences that lead to learning. When used appropriately, high-quality screen time can enhance the learning process.

The downside is that devices can inadvertently take the place of family time, social interaction, physical activities, free time, homework, and even sleep. It is helpful to design a plan that strikes an ideal balance between in person learning opportunities and appropriate screen time usage.

Here is how you start:

1. Research the suggested screen time limits for your child’s age group.

Check out the recommendations from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).

2. Set clear guidelines for screen time.

Discuss how many hours are permitted on weekdays and weekends.

3. Model using screens at appropriate times.

Lead by example! If mealtimes are screen free in your home, try to set the example with your actions. Discuss your screen time plans with caregivers so that family rules are followed consistently.

4. Use the parental control apps and monitors on children’s devices.

5. Get outside!

Plan outdoor activities, family events, sporting activities, family time, game night, playdates where everyone is “unplugged.”

6. Educate yourself on the games children are playing online.

Are there chatting capabilities? Preview content for age appropriateness.

7. Teach kids how to self-regulate their media usage.

It will become a very important skill as they become more independent. Show kids how to set timers to remind them when to log off the device.

Stephanie Standley M. Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Psychology as well as a Master of Education-Literacy from the University of San Diego. Stephanie has 12+ years of classroom experience as a teacher and currently supports students in Special Education. She is inspired to use evidence-based practices to educate children in creative and engaging ways.