iPhone

In the last couple of years, I've really begun to notice how our family is becoming more and more addicted to screen time. I was going to write "my kids" here...but in all honesty, it applies to me too.

My son loves to play computer games. He plays them alone, with his sister or even in an online game with his friends from primary school. It seems they all have tablets and computers nowadays. Though I steadfastly refuse to even consider getting him a smartphone.

My daughter, a teenager, is more interested in texting, YouTube and Netflix. After school, if I let her, she'll be FaceTiming her friends or texting them in a group chat. Instagram is a favourite these days, too.

And me? I'm certainly not guilt-free. Working from home, I often find myself distracted - checking work emails, flicking through Instagram or looking at my Facebook page. I try to justify this, as it's my job and pays the bills.....but hand-on-heart, it's not really setting a good example, is it?

Nor does it seem that our family is alone in this...

A survey of 1,000 mums (with kids aged 2-12 years) found that 85% used technology to engage their kids whilst they got on with other activities. The survey, by AO.com, suggested that children spent an average of 17 hours looking at screens per week. Source

Thinking of ideas how to tackle this hasn't been easy. Many ideas have tried and failed. For example, limiting them to one hour doesn't work - mainly because I just don't have the will power, the patience or the energy to police it.

So what did work? 

Gadget - free Sunday mornings has been our first successful foray into combatting the addictive effects of screen time.

So, how does it work? 

In theory it's pretty simple - no electronics before 12pm on a Sunday. That means no TV, no smartphone, no emails and definitely no tablets.

For the first couple of weeks, I did meet some resistance. The kids would watch the clock...just itching to know what they were missing, what show was on TV or what their friends were doing. However, best of all - just occasionally - they were bored. I revelled in the fact that they were experiencing childhood as we had known it in our day. That they had to think up their own forms of entertainment - talk to each other, talk to me, communicate, draw, write, make, create, or go outside to play. Or keeping it simple, just stay in bed and read a book!

And now? It's pretty much become routine. There's no arguments or complaints from anyone.

I so look forward to our Sunday mornings. We regularly have a leisurely breakfast together, often eating muffins or pain au chocolate warm out of the oven. Then they'll draw or read or create - as in the cardboard den my son made above. Or we'll get up early and head out for a walk to the lakes (Crummock Water above), for a swim or to watch my son play hockey.

Oh, and not to forget the added bonus - a lie-in. With no screens to look at, or text messages to check, the kids almost always sleep in....just perfect. 

As for the rest of the week....that's a work in progress. But for now...roll on the weekend.

I hope you find our tips useful and I would love to hear if you have carved out any time in your week to go "gadget-free". Or maybe you have some tips that you could share for the rest of the week....

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14 comments on “Our first steps towards limiting screen time in our home”

    • They’re so addictive, aren’t they? I’m sure they’re designed that way, which doesn’t help!

  1. My brain feels muddled when I get too much screen time. It’s hard to think. Trying to avoid that feeling is motivation enough to keep from overdoing my screen time! With kids, that’s tough. We are empty nesters and don’t have to deal with children’s screen time, but I’m sure younger parents out there have all sorts of clever tips. I think your Sunday morning rule is a great start, though!

    • I’ m with you there, Priscilla. I tend to feel “foggy” if I have too much screen time and feel so much better if I limit my time online. I’m sure it makes the kids grumpy, too! But yes, Sunday mornings are a good start…something to build on.

    • Maybe we should extend our gadget free Sunday mornings to last longer 🙂 I’m glad it works for you and thank you for posting.

  2. A lot of my friends complain that their kids spend too much time looking at screens, but I really do think we bring it on ourselves a lot of the time. If I need to get a blog post written for a client, or am getting hassled while I’m trying to cook dinner, I almost always thrust an iPad in the kids’ hands! That said, both of them would rather be doing something fun rather than staring at a screen. We often bake, play with Play Doh, and go for a walk in the park. I wish I was craftier though so we could make some nice things 🙂

    Louise x

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Louise. I think you definitely have something here….it’s certainly easier to keep them engaged when we have plans, be it a day out or an activity at home. I think I might need to work on this some more 🙂

    • I can certainly recommend it. Sunday morning without “gadgets” is certainly a joy in our home. I’m just working on extending the benefits to other days in the week now. I’d be interested to hear how you get on 🙂

  3. My family are guilty of spending far too much time attached to screens. I mean ..cough.. I’m on one right now! We used to do no screens before school and then a limited amount after but I’ve noticed it’s fallen to a wayside. You’ve reminded me to re-implement!

    • Thanks for your comment, Tinuke. It’s not easy, is it? I make sure the gadgets are in the hallway overnight and I must admit that this morning, I was fed up so I hid them until they were dressed for school etc. It worked….for now!

  4. We are completely guilty of this. We find ourselves telling our daughter no she cannot go on a gadget and to find something else to do, whilst sat with a laptop or phone in hand. It is not a good example, and something I really do believe we should work on. I have 4 large shelves of books behind me on the wall, I really must remember they are there a little more often!

    • It’s not easy, is it Michelle. I must admit that I find myself guilty of exactly the same thing, I need to work on it, too. The best thing I find is to get out of the house, preferably leaving gadgets at home 🙂

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