“You are buying into the myth that you are more productive because you are using a bunch of gadgets. You are really stealing time away from yourself and from your family”
So how did the ‘screen time talk’ go?
Don’t worry if you haven’t had it yet. Our previous blog post – WALKING THE ‘SCREEN TIME TALK’ – will fill you in.
And if you’re reading this for the very first time then welcome to our third break-out post on Preparing your Kids for Screen Time Success!
If you’re serious about tackling screen time for children…
…then start with your home!
No, we’re not talking about encasing the router in concrete…
…or attacking your screens with a giant axe…
But six little hacks that can make a big difference.
It doesn’t matter if you live in a one bedroom flat…
…or a hundred bedroom mansion.
The goal here is to promote a home environment which naturally favours face-to-face interactions, shared activities and productivity over solo screen time.
Sound too good to be true?
Educator and parenting advisor Noel Janis-Norton provides excellent guidance in her book Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time. (By the way, we are HUGE fans!)
In it, she identifies six quick hacks that can make your home more conducive to tackling screen time for children.
Start by putting these practices into place right away.
1) The Drop Zone
Think of this as a tech repository box.
And it can be just that…a box.
Placed in rooms you’d like to keep tech free.
It could be the room where the family gathers for dinner…
or the study perhaps (if you’re lucky enough to have one of those).
It could only apply during set times (great if you’re in that one bedroom flat)…
…or all the time.
When a family member enters the room, they ‘deposit’ their screens in the drop zone.
And they’re only allowed them back when they exit.
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2) The Charging Station
This sounds sophisticated, but it really isn’t.
It’s just a plug. Or if you’ve really made it in life (or have lots of kids), a multi-socket extension lead.
And you use the plug to charge everyone’s devices overnight (yes, parents included).
This stops young minds from Whatsapping through the night or checking Facebook…
…and older ones from replying to work emails or checking the news.
It helps enforce screen time rules and routines…
…and ensures a better night’s sleep for the whole family.
3) Screen-Free Bedrooms
Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory.
No big screens – televisions, tablets or computers – in the bedroom. (We say no big screens because your child’s smartphone will be held safely in the charging station overnight, so they’re not tempted).
And because you’ll want to practice what you preach, ban screens from your bedroom, too (the kids will have a field day)!
4) Remote Control Hide-and-Seek
Sounds familiar, but probably isn’t what you think.
To avoid temptation, hide the remotes and shared devices when they’re not in use…
…and have the kids (or your partner) request them when they’re needed.
No, we don’t expect you to throw a rug over the television…
…or attempt to stuff the family computer in a cabinet.
We’re talking remote controls and small shared devices like tablets.
And while it’s not quite out-of-sight-out-of-mind, it all helps!
5) Screen time limits – for parents and carers!
You didn’t seriously think you’d get out of this one, did you?
If you want to set an example to your kids, you’ll need to do just that.
After all, if they see you tapping away on your screen when they’re not allowed theirs – you’re just begging for tantrums.
So apply screen time rules to your tech use too!
And spend that newly acquired quality time together as a family (here are 101 UNPLUGGED ACTIVITY IDEAS to get you started).
6) Getting rid of screens you don’t use (and only replace existing ones)
But think about it for a moment…
How many screens do you really need?
Are you ever short of screens?
And how much money would you save if you didn’t have to buy more?
We’re not suggesting never buying another device again.
But rather only replacing what you have when you need to.
And not adding more to your house’s ever growing arsenal of screens.
By taking these six simple steps, you are making screen time a less obvious choice in your household!
One final point…
Please read Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time by Noel Janis-Norton.
It inspired us to write this post!
A learning and behaviour specialist with more than 40 years’ experience, Noel is the founder and director of The Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Centre.
Through her innovative programs, she has helped parents and teachers learn effective techniques that result in more cooperative, confident, motivated, self-reliant and considerate kids.
Find out more about Noel and her work on her website: www.calmerparenting.com
What did you think of these screen time home hacks? Let us know in the comments below!
And keep a look out for our next post in the series: Reframing Screen Time Rights for Your Screen-Hungry Kids.