A while back, my friend announced that she was going on a digital detox. She wouldn’t be contactable for the weekend, because she was completely frazzled and needed to reset. I completely understood the need, being close to that myself. It’s not just me though – I’ve been seeing the effects of too much screen time on the kids too.
Soon after discovering Roblox, my son zoned in on followers, likes and being online at certain times to play with his school friends. When our wifi went down, he cried ugly tears as though the world was ending. And that’s when it hit me: we get so sucked into our digital world that when we can’t access it we act like there’s nothing else. Children in particular seem to struggle with this.
Given that my whole business is online, I’m hardly going to be completely anti-screens. You won’t find me smashing up our tablets any time soon! So why get less screen time?
- Reduced eye strain
- Reduced headaches
- Reduced pain in the neck, shoulder and wrists
- Lower bills
- More time. Like, loads more time than you think you’ll actually get
- Increased fitness, if you’re swapping screens for moving around more
- Increased happiness in general
- Less dependence on any one thing for entertainment
9 ways to get less screen time by stealth
Go outside. Take a longer, more scenic route home from school. Head into the garden with your cuppa and leave the phone inside. A stolen moment in the garden is often enough to reset a frazzled mind.
Ask the kids to help you around the house. One of the easiest ways I get my kids off screens is to make sure they’re shadowing me while I’m trying to clean up after them. Ask whoever needs to get off their screens most to help you dry the dishes, weed the garden, or sort the recycling.
Make the gadgets harder to find. Get a box to put the tablets, phones and handheld consoles in at the end of the day, and find somewhere out of the way to put it.
Model the behaviour you want to see. If you’re on Twitter all day, then expect everyone else in the house to be on screens all day too. Children love to copy their grown-ups; it’s how they learn. Show them the behaviour you want them to learn!
Board game night. Get a game of Cluedo on and see the screens quickly get forgotten. Don’t even ask, just get a game out and set it up where they can see. They’ll soon join you, especially if you’ve already hidden their gadgets.
Read to each other. Get your favourite chapter book from when you were a child (anything by Roald Dahl or is a go in our house, as is Toletis) and read a chapter or two every couple of days. If you get tired of reading easily, pass the book to someone else to read.
Make dance nights a thing. My sons take dance offs very seriously. Shane in particular seems like he was born with music and dance in his bones. Make them a Spotify playlist, give them a couple of pots and pans or just start singing.
Make screen time a reward for doing the other things that need to get done. Don’t sit down with your phone until you’ve completed your work tasks for the day. When you get the kids home, make them hold off on their screens until they’ve put their things away properly. Before long, you’ll hardly think about it.
Have a “power cut” or send the gadgets off for a “service”. This isn’t something I’ve actually done, but if it got to the point of needing a big red button I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Simply announce that you’re sending the gadgets off for a service then hide them while the kids are sleeping. Keep them away for as long as you feel it necessary.
Do you need a digital detox?