After nearly three months of watching TV around the clock, you might be ready to reign in your kids screen time for the new school year. This will be an adjustment, but the less time your child spends watching TV or streaming their favorite programs, the more time there’ll be for family activities and schoolwork.
Even if you don’t go as far as saying, “No TV during the week,” there are plenty of ways to manage their television time. So, how do you break your kid’s excessive TV habit? This won’t be easy, but the following tips can point your family in the right direction.
1. Set TV limits and be consistent.
Sit down with your children before (or after) the school year starts and establish ground rules regarding TV viewing during the school week. Even if you don’t have cable, streaming videos and movies can keep your children distracted and waste precious time.
Determine an appropriate amount of screen time for your family based on your circumstances. This will vary from family to family. For example, some parents may feel two hours a day is okay during the week, whereas other parents may only allow their children one hour of TV during the week (perhaps due to poor performance in school). Whatever you decide for your family, be consistent.
2. Keep the television off during dinner.
When kids get into a habit of watching TV too much, they might prefer TV over spending quality time with the family. Because dinner is an excellent time for families to converse, turning off the TV during this time benefits the entire family.
After a busy school day and workday, this is an opportunity to relax and talk about your days. It might be the only time everyone is in the same room during the day.
3. Restrict television until after they’ve completed homework.
You can also limit your family’s screen time by not allowing children to watch TV or stream programs until they’ve completed their homework. Or take it a step further and only allow TV time after dinner. This gives your child about one or two hours of television time before getting ready for bed.
4. Discover fun activities.
Afternoons and evenings are hectic times for parents. Between preparing meals, cleaning, laundry and other activities, the less interruptions you have, the better. Sitting your kids in front of the TV is a convenient and effective way to keep them busy. But rather than use TV as a distraction or babysitter (particularly for younger children), think of other fun activities to occupy your child.
Think of activities or games your child might enjoy, whether it’s drawing, reading, playing under a fort made of blanket or puzzles. These activities will not only keep your children busy, they can stimulate your child’s creative side and teach them to entertain themselves without TV.
5. Remove TVs and portable devices from your child’s bedroom.
To curb your children’s screen time during the school year and beyond, remove television sets from their bedroom and limit their use of electronic devices in bed. When bored, they’re likely to sit aimlessly in front of the television for hours at a time, or continually stream programs from their cell phone or tablet. Besides, removing TVs from the bedrooms provides more opportunities to monitor what they’re watching.
Your child might not agree with your decision to limit their TV time. In the end, however, this decision can benefit everyone in the household. Your children will spend more time interacting with the family, and they’re more likely to discover new activities and develop new interests.