One Mom On: Setting Screen Limits for My Family

Oh, how we adore our screen time in my family.  Among us are a blogger mother, a Twitter-addicted father, and two app-lovin’ kids. The decision to limit screen time came by necessity as we had all but simply stopped talking as a family.

It hardly seemed reasonable (or practical) to enforce screen time limitations without following by example, so after much hemming and hawing, my husband and I decided to make some small changes in the hopes of yielding big results.

Allow me to break down what we tried and what we learned in the process:

1. Explain the need for screen limits. Our children thought this was the worst idea Mom and Dad have ever concocted.

What we learned: While our kids didn’t understand the need for screen time limits, that was OK. We were doing it anyway. Expect pouting and just know they’ll get over it…eventually.

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2. Swap TV for tunes. If television is typically used in your house for background noise, try turning off the television and turning on the music!

What we learned: Wow, our kids have some wicked dance moves! Dancing as a family is a great way to get in a few laughs, blow off steam, and even get a little exercise!

3. Remove televisions from bedrooms. Since my children were wee things they’ve watched age-appropriate programming from the comfort of their bedrooms. Convenient? Yes. Difficult to limit? Unfortunately, yes.

What we learned: It’s dusty behind the TV! Oh, and we were the meanest parents ever.

4. Enjoy screen time responsibly. Limiting screen time was never meant to ruin anyone’s life. By allowing each family member to select their favorite television shows, we set the appropriate recordings on our DVR to watch at designated times in limited amounts.

What we learned: Managing such a drastic change in screen habits didn’t seem so scary once programming preferences were recognized. No one had to miss their favorite shows. We just reprioritized what was worth watching.

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5. Announce the screen-time schedule. Limiting screen time doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing scenario. Choose a regular screen time schedule and stick to it -- your kids are counting on it!

What we learned: Publish the screen time schedule, otherwise you’ll be answering, “No, it’s not time right now” at nauseum.

6. Provide alternative methods of entertainment. Get down those games from the top of the closet. Break out the craft supplies. Pump up the tires on the bikes. Do something, anything else!

What we learned: Alternatives are a must. It’s unfair to expect children to adapt to a radical change in habit without activities that engage and inspire them. Otherwise, the change feels more like an unfair punishment. Limiting screen time is supposed to have a positive impact on the family as a whole and you can make it that way!

Mean mommies and daddies, share your experience! What screen-time limits have you imposed in your family? What did you learn?

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