“Our approach is balance: the appropriate and positive use of devices, but with sacred spaces and tech-free zones.” – Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media.
It’s no secret kids are spending more time on screens.
But what about their parents?
Common Sense Media resolved to find out!
They surveyed more than 1,700 parents of kids aged 8-18 years and asked them about their digital habits and how long they spend on screens.
And the results may surprise you.
A Generation of Screen Addicts
Turns out parents spend as much time – if not longer – on screens as their kids.
That’s more than 9 hours a day with screen media.
And 82% of that time was devoted to personal screen time, not work emails or the like.
Yet 78% of parents surveyed believed they were good screen time role models for their kids.
A further 56% of parents surveyed were also concerned their kids might become tech addicts.
But it turns out they’re addicted to technology, too!
Even Steve Jobs saw the need to limit screen time in his family.
New York Times reporter Nick Bilton once asked Jobs, “So your kids must love the iPad?”
Jobs responded: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
So here are few simple steps to help your family curb screen time and expand family time.
#1 Screens in the Bedroom
This should not come as a surprise.
After all, paediatricians have recommended no TVs in kids bedrooms for decades.
But what about tablets and smartphones?
Using electronics at bedtime has been linked to poor and inadequate sleep…
…which, in turn, can lead to all sorts of health issues like obesity, depression and anxiety.
So you’ll want to keep bedrooms screen free, especially after lights out.
Have you considered introducing a charging zone?
It’s a place where all screens are charged overnight (including parents screens).
Stops young minds Whatsapping through the night (and older ones replying to work emails).
Need some inspiration? Here are 13 charging stations to control the screens (and chords).
RELATED: Like what you’re reading? Get your FREE Guide: Prepping your Home for Screen Time Success
#2 At the Table
Regular family meals have long been advocated as a building block to better family bonds.
But our over-scheduled, hectic family lives are increasingly getting in the way.
In fact, only 4-in-10 families make time to sit down together twice a week. And 1-in-10 never do so.
When sitting down for a family meal, forget the screens.
They are a distraction, inhibit free-flowing conversation, and it’s downright bad manners.
To kickstart this habit, establish a tech drop zone outside the kitchen or dining room!
It’s just a humble box or drawer. When someone enters the room, they place their device in it.
And when they exit, they take it out. Screen-free dinners, sorted!
#3 The Homework Station
Every home has a homework station – a place where kids settle to study.
When you child is studying, you don’t want them distracted by screens.
But sometimes they’ll need to use the internet or a productivity app – like Microsoft Word – so a complete ban on screens or turning off the router is a no-no.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimise digital distractions.
Avoid non-essential screens – like smartphones and tablets – at the homework station.
And for homework where screens aren’t needed, ensure all screens are hidden away.
But if digital distractions are still a problem, consider a screen time solution – like Habyts – with dedicated Study Time settings which block distracting apps and websites.
When your child is in Study Time, he can access educational apps or websites freely.
But digital distractions like Facebook or Minecraft are kept at bay.
Find out more about how Habyts tames digital homework distractions.
#4 The Great Outdoors
Kids are becoming less and less active, with 3-in-4 teens now spending less time outside than prisoners.
That’s less than one hour a day.
Experts agree that active play is essential to happy, healthy kids, so make time for it in your child’s routine.
It could be as simple as sending the kids outside to play before dinner or a stroll around the local park.
And at weekends, plan screen-free family excursions – like a woodland walk or swimming.
Even if it’s raining, there are still plenty of indoor active play ideas to keep tweens busy.
Just ensure the smartphones are turned off or left at home.
RELATED: Serious about tackling screen time? Start with your home!
#5 Road Trips
A tough one, we agree.
Many parents willing hand over gadgets for a few minutes peace and quiet in the car.
But like family meal time, car journeys are occasions when the whole family is together.
So use the time constructively…
It’s the perfect opportunity to forge those strong bonds that increase your child’s resilience,
You could hold a family meeting, play fun games like i-spy, or even plan the next road trip…
Or just to catch up on the latest playtime gossip.
But if you’re stuck for topics – here are a few to get you started.
Just remember, what goes for kids goes for adults too!
So there you have it! Five sacred screen-free spaces to maximise conversation, creativity and strengthen family bonds while minimising screen time.
Any places or spaces to add? Let us know in the comments below!