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Having a late night scroll through social media and it is apparent that there are many parents out there desperate to reduce their child’s access to screens.
I see parents asking how to get their children away from screens and seeking advice around what activities to distract their children with.
Now I will admit that Miss 4 and Miss 19m have always had very limited screen time. I have occasionally shown them a photo I have taken of them on my smart phone, we FaceTime Dad while he is at work sometimes and family on the other side of the country once a week or so.
Mr 10, however is a different story. We have been through the tantrums, the withdrawals and the lack of direction that comes with the initial restriction of screens. Trust me, I can understand what these parents are talking about when they just default back to screen time.
Guess what though? We stuck with it, he survived and wow, what a different child!
- He became social with the family
- His is speech improving
- His mood is more consistent
- He laughs and smiles
- He is moving, playing inside and outdoors too
- He is so such happier!
Four years later and I have no regrets in limiting his screen time. During the week, outside of his schooling during the day, he has an hour each evening of TV time with the option of doing some extra household chores to earn XBox time (which he hasn’t done for what could be coming up for a year per his own choice).
Instead of screen time, he plays with his lego, draws, plays with play dough, jumps on the trampoline, rides his scooter and has developed a forever growing fondness of reading books. Just today he came home from school and got straight into creating his very own comic book!
He seeks out his sisters and joins them in their activities and is excited to share the tales of his day.
So what would be some tips that I could offer to restrict screen time?
1. Write down why you would like to reduce your child’s screen time. This is going to be something that you remind yourself of when the going gets tough. Stay true to your values and your reason why!
2. Provide your child with open ended play opportunities. Craft supplies, paint, colouring pencils, loose parts for small world play, play dough etc. Be attentive to their interests and offer play opportunities surrounding what they enjoy. Eg insects, dinosaurs, animals, vehicles, space
3. Let them get bored! Boredom inspires creativity. Screens trigger a hormone production that offers a feeling of pleasure. It is going to take time for your child to feel the same ‘pleasure’ in a real life situation as the rapid paced stimulus it has become accustomed too.
4. Set a good example. Monkey see, monkey do. Try to be conscious of how much time you are spending on your device or in front of your tv while under the watchful eye of your children.
We started off with what I called ‘Park and Craft’ after school. We would spend an hour or so at the park running around or hanging off the playground only to come home and he would craft it up while I cooked dinner.
Once the habit of finishing school and switching on the tv was broken, I gave him bit by bit more control over what he did once we were home. There was resistance here and there but that little system worked well for us.
Now when he finishes school, Mr 10 tells us about this day, asks about ours, shares his ideas, troubles and ambitions. His mind is active, his body is active, he is being social and he is building bonds that will last a lot longer than a 20 minute episode of whatever the latest fad is on the box.
Good luck folks and when in doubt, remind yourself of your reason why.
Dani D x
Disclosure: This Blog does contain affiliate links which I may earn a small commission from if you purchase through them, at no extra cost to you.
Do you struggle coming up with creative play ideas? Get your ‘Recipe for Creative Play’ ebook here!
Here are some open ended toy options to consider- remember to keep play based around you child’s interests!
11 thoughts on “Turning Screens Off and Active Play On”
I didn’t realize screens triggered a happy emotion. geez, Louise. No wonder everyone is walking around with their head in one instead of enjoying life.
It really is a scary thought isn’t it? If you are interested you could google ‘Dopamine Screen Time’ and have a more in depth read about it. The struggles children go through to get away from screens is very real and some even compare it to an addiction.
There are so many way more fun stuff to do outside. Kids that are heavy social media users are not as active as they sound like online. Good to know you have embraced the non-techy world.
Thank you! I feel it’s all about age appropriate exposure and a healthy balance. Unplugged certainly leaves better memories!
this is great! hope they have fun with these non-electronic games!
Hello! Thank you so much. We certainly have a whole lot of fun with no screens in sight!
One of my biggest issues with the school, these days, is that they allow so much learning on tablets and computers. I had made a rule that my son couldn’t use tablets or play computer games at home because he would go nuts whenever we turned it off or told him no. This was before kindergarten. He had been doing really well, but lo and behold, when he started having issues in class, guess what time it was happening during…. Did you guess tablet time? You’d be so correct if you did.
We let him play now, but we notice a huge change in his temperment when he plays too much.
Yes, I had a conversation with my daughters kindy teacher about my preferences to avoid screen time.
It certainly makes it difficult to try and encourage a child to take responsibility and understand the reasons why we put these rules in place when another authoritative figure in their life says something different.
YES! I love this post so much. Active play is so important and fun! We love books, puzzles, coloring and going to the park! 🙂
Thank you so much! Yes, there is so much more value in active play not to mention that wonderful memories!