Reducing Screen Time

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Ooooh, this is such an achilles heel for so many of us. The screen is a blessing and a curse isn't it? There is so much to learn from TV and yet it is so easy for them to get sucked into a screen vortex.

I'm not here to judge. As a mother of  teens it is hard to work out how much time they spend on screens as they have their own phones and laptops for homework but for those of you with younger children there is a lot you can do to reduce or manage screen time so it works well for all of you.

Below are some guidelines that come from the American College of Paediatrics and some solutions from me.

The American College of Paediatrics say the following which is quite helpful;

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid the use of screens other than video chatting
  • Parents of children 18-24 months who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they are seeing.
  • For children age 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour a day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children age 6 and over place consistent limits on the time spend using media and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviours essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together such as mealtimes or driving and media-free locations at home such as bedrooms.

I'm just here to tell you what they recommend, not to make you feel guilty if you don't stick to these recommendations. I think are pretty sound and would love to encourage you to go with them.


So here are some ways to help limit screen time:

  • Have codes on EVERYTHING that only you know.
  • When you put the screen on decide how long your child can watch and put a loud timer on it.
  • Before they start to watch, clarify how long they have and ask 'when the time is up, what do you have to do even if you want to carry on watching?
  • Children will be drawn to screens like it is a magnetic force. You can break that force field by really sticking to your guns and providing alternatives.
  • Make sure you supply plenty of alternatives such as books, craft materials, puzzles, construction toys, make-believe play such as tea-sets and toy food. It often requires some of your time to get games started but often they will carry on without you.
  • Have rules and consequences with your screens - the rule is x amount of time per day and if your child creates a big fuss or goes over time then the following day the screen time is reduced.
  • Have them earn the screen time by doing things you want them to do - rather than threatening to take the screen time away if they haven't behaved well.