Creative Ways to Reduce Screen Time

It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology that continues to grow. However, technology is incorporated into children’s lives more and more, so it is important to pause and be intentional about limiting screen time in order to mitigate developmental issues.

A recent study from the American Association of Pediatrics revealed that toddlers who were exposed to more handheld screen time were more likely to have delayed expressive language skills. They recommend the following limits: no screen time for children under 2, one hour per day for children 2 to 12, and two hours per day for teens and adults. *GULP*

If you are like me, that is a bit convicting, but don’t let anxiety or shame get in the way of taking little steps towards reducing screen time. We encourage you to look at minimizing screen time as a challenge worth pursuing, and in doing so, and maybe in doing so for the children we care for, we will build habits that rub off on some of us as well.

Here are some suggested ways to help create screen-free time:

  • Create device-free zones throughout the home: This could mean no phones at meals, no devices in the bedroom, or any other areas you might not want screens to be in.
  • Create a charging station: During no screen times, it is best if the technology is out of sight. It can be helpful to create a charging station where the devices stay to charge during no screen time. This leads to a distraction-free environment.
  • Plan activities: Have a routine for the day that builds creativity and encourages curiosity. This may include games, crafts, activities, books, puzzles, music, dress-up, toys, obstacle courses, outings, and so much more! Our developmental milestone series has a lot of great ideas.
  • Have outside time: Going outside and having no screen time while outdoors can help children foster their imagination and play with their surroundings. Getting messy and playing in the dirt can improve brain development.
  • Be consistent: if you allow some screen time, don’t be swayed into the never-ending “5 more minutes”. Explain why you are limiting the usage, and hold to it. You can also use a visual countdown timer for this.
  • Be realistic about your device-free time: We know that in this age of technology, it is nearly impossible to avoid screen time altogether completely. Be mindful of this and try to encourage new ways to spend screen time. Instead of sitting them in front of some TV, watch a musical and sing with them. There are many ways to encourage imaginative play and give yourself a break along the way!

Overall, we want to try to avoid using screens as a way to entertain children, because the possibilities are endless. Encourage children to find entertainment in their environment and foster their creative and imaginative play. Children who entertain themselves with fun activities and outside play will become the big thinkers of future generations!