Screen Time

Why Screen Free Time Is Good For The Whole Family

Over the festive season I went three whole days without turning on my laptop and it felt amazing. I can’t remember when last I made it through even one day without turning on my laptop.

Have you ever had a look around a restaurant at all the families and couples? Do that next time you go out and you will probably see what I see. Family members seated around the same table with nobody interacting and each person glued to their own screen, couples out for a “romantic” evening totally cut off from each other.

I find it sad to see, and while I have a no screen time at meal times rule, my family still has quite a lot of screen time, like I am sure many families do in this hi-tech world we now find ourselves in.

I work online from home which makes it hard to escape from my screen. My kids love watching TV and they each have their own tablets and smart watches.! I’m dreading the day they want their own phones!

There are so many devices with screens available now – from our TV’s which have been around for many years to smart phones, computers, laptops, tablets and e-readers. In addition to so many devices being available with screens, the places where screens are available have increased too.

Chances are high that if you work, you are sitting in front of a computer at work all day. If your children are not learning on a tablet at school by now they sure will be soon, this is the way of the future.

I remember when I was growing up my mother used to limit our TV time, but now there are screens everywhere and this is just going to increase as time goes by.

Why Screen Free Time Is Goof For The Whole Family

Why Screen Free Time Is Good For The Whole Family

  1. The Importance Of Quality Family Time

It is so important for families to spend uninterrupted time together without the distraction of any screens. It will be just about impossible to get to know what your kids have been up to, whether something is bothering them and how they are coping at school if you don’t sit and chat regularly with your children.

The same goes for your partner, relationships take hard work and you can’t do that from behind a screen. You need to interact face to face with your partner and very often there is only a short space of time to do this in.

It is important to give your children your full attention and not be stuck to your phone when you do things with them. This will show your children that they matter and that you love spending time with them.

It is important to have healthy and close relationships within the family. Limiting screen time is a great way to help you to achieve this.

  1. Healthy Sleeping Habits

Too much screen time, especially just before bed is not conducive to healthy sleep. In order to ensure that your family sleeps well it is essential to make bed time routines screen free. Consider healthier alternatives such as reading to your children.

Screen time before bed doesn’t only affect your children’s sleep negatively, it has the same effect on adults. Ensure that you have one hour of screen free time before you go to bed too.

Screen time bedtime

  1. Outdoor And Active Time

Screen time usually equals sitting still indoors and children should be active and outdoors. There is nothing better than children playing out in nature! Truth be told the same goes for adults.

Encouraging your children to be outdoors and to leave the screens behind will most likely make for a much healthier and happier child.

  1. Time For Other Healthy Interests

While there is nothing wrong with a bit of screen time it can become all consuming for some kids and for many adults too. It is important to make sure that there is time for other interests too.

It is great for kids to try out new sports and hobbies – limiting screen time will make this possible.

  1. Excessive Screen Time Is Not Healthy

Too much screen time can actually damage the brain. Many children suffer from sensory overload, a hyperaroused nervous system and a lack of restorative sleep due to excessive screen time.

Your child’s brain is still developing and it could be dangerous to expose your child to too much screen time. Screen addiction is becoming more and more common with brain scans research finding gray matter atrophy, compromised white matter integrity, reduced cortisol thickness, impaired cognitive function, cravings and impaired dopamine function.

Computer tablet screen

Tips For Having Screen Free Family Time

Now that we know why screen free time is good for your family here are some tips and ideas for limiting screen time and having time when the whole family has screen free time together.

  1. Screen Free At Meal Times

Meal times are when families get together at the end of each day. This is the perfect time to connect with your partner and your children and to have a lovely relaxing time together. Making a rule that there are no phones or tablets at the table is a brilliant plan. Make sure the television is always turned off too.

  1. Limit The Amount Of Screen Time For Children

Decide how much daily screen time you feel is appropriate for your kids and set limits for time spent on tablets, phones and watching television. This will leave plenty of time available for your children to pursue other hobbies, to interact with people one on one and to get things done such as homework and household chores.

  1. Make Use Of A Family Tracker App

An easy way to keep track of everyone’s device activities is to download a family tracker app such as Family Orbit. This will enable you to monitor your children’s phone activities, locate your child real time, lock or unlock your child’s device instantly and block any dangerous websites or apps.

Downloading a parental app will be very useful for controlling screen time as well as making sure that you are controlling and ensuring your child’s safety online.

Family Screen Time

  1. Plan Screen Free Family Activities

Plan some outdoor activities to do with your family on weekends and during school holidays such hiking, camping and beach days. Make sure that everyone leaves their devices at home.

During winter months when the weather may be too cold and wet to spend time outdoors you can make family nights at home where you can play games and do activities without any devices being present.

  1. Keep Devices For Certain Times

There are certain times when it would not be appropriate for your children to have any screen time such as just before bed. Make sure that your children know what times they can and can’t use their devices.

To make it easier for everyone to stick to the screen free times it is a great idea to keep a basket somewhere and all family members can put their devices in the basket at the times they should be screen free and they can collect them when it is appropriate to use their devices.

 


Also published on Medium.

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7 comments

  1. I can relate to this article on so many levels. We have 7 year old in the house and he is constantly either on Youtube or the Xbox or on his tablet. On weekdays we limit his screen time and focus more on reading books. Its difficult even for us as parents as we are always checking our mobiles for messages and Facebook. We even take the phone to the toilet😁. This is definitely one of my areas that I will be working on this year as I am guilty of the fomo😂

    • Kim that fomo can really be worked on and it is amazing how much more time and energy you have when you are not online and checking all your social media channels. Even though I work online I try to stay away from social media as much as possible, yes I know it may sound strange for someone that has a Facebook page of about 58 000 fans! It just becomes too much, now I probably spend much less time on social media than other people do!

      Thankfully my kids still prefer to play outside and really engage a lot in imaginative play, but I can see them wanting to watch Youtube videos and playing on their tablets more often. This is something I am going to have to limit in the coming years. I’m dreading the day when I must consider getting my kids their own phones!

  2. I’m also quite fond of my phone and like to know what is going on in the world of social media and you know…we must have the fastest internet line because you do not want to wait for downloads.

    My parents live on a farm in the Koekenaap area and we visited them last year between Christmas and new year. I thought ok granny will play with the kids and mommy can have some alone time which entails…laying in front of the TV with my cell phone, checking social media. My word!! I gave up the first day! the internet connection was s slow it could not even open the apps. I was “forced” to play with granny and the kids and it was amazing. We went for long drives on the farm etc and just spend quality time together.

    Luckily my boy loves being outdoors. On hot days I need to beg him so just stay inside and watch a little bit of TV. Lynne I’m also dreading the day when he wants to have his on phone and being part of social media. It’s such a scary world out there.

    Very good article to read!

  3. I try to screen free parent , it’s tough . My toddler loves watching tv but if I plan an activity outside she is more than willing to engage. I also put my phone away when I enter the house and then just check it every now and then for messages. I also read that it’s very important to communicate to your child what you are doing with your phone, so they are not just seeing passive interaction, for e.g. I’m just looking up the recipe for tonight’s supper or I am responding to an email,

  4. I find that I’m constantly having to check myself and my husband with the amount of times we spend in our phones
    Our LB has no phone or tablet interaction, but does watch one or two shows maybe on a Saturday morning when we are cleaning the house.
    He much prefers to touch and play than sit and watch,which is great because we are both arty and love to build and create.

  5. No screen time during dinner- there is actually research that shows families who dine in front of the television loose out on bonding, communication and interaction with their children. Sitting around a table to eat teaches little ones social skills, interaction with adults and siblings, it teaches empathy and how to support your loves ones. It makes little ones feel important to share their day whilst their whole family listens. These are things money can’t buy- all the more reason to have a traditional sit down meal at least once a day.

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