I didn't think my kids watched a lot of TV, or spent much time on a mobile device (tablet, phone, etc). They would watch a show or two at breakfast, (sometimes) a show or game later in the morning, and a bit before dinner while I'm busy cooking. After a while, my husband and I added up the time our kids spent watching/playing on their device (or TV) and discovered that some days their screen time was about 2 hours. Although two hours doesn't seem a lot, it was more than I had realized.
One day I read a quote that I often reference on our social media account. It said,
"I think it's necessary to let kids get bored once in a while - that's how they learn to be creative." -Kim Raver
We decided to limit their screen time. And when the day came to let our kids know, I was nervous. We had decided that they were allowed to watch a show during breakfast (mostly because we are not morning people and chatting during breakfast does not appealing to either of us). They were also allowed to watch a show or play a game while I made dinner (also for selfish reasons as I enjoy cooking alone).
On the first day our kids asked for more shows a few times. At one point in the day my son said he was bored. I simply replied with 'bored people are boring'.
It only took one day before I noticed my kids' creativity begin to take over. My two eldest made a slide out of cushions. My son started to play more imaginatively. Our daughter built her own doll house out of blankets and towels. She also started becoming much more interested in starting to write her own name. It didn't take me long to see the value of limiting screen time.
Here are some good screen time replacements:
- Tracing books (where they can trace objects, letters, numbers, etc..)
- Markers or crayons and colouring sheets or books
- Play dough
- Games such as Hungry Hippos, Memory or Go Fish
- Fort building
Now let me just say, I like my kids having some screen/TV time. In fact, I know they've learned a lot from watching shows. Whether it was learning songs from the YouTube Kids app, or special apps helping them get active, or discovering a character they look up to, screen time isn't what is bad. It's simply learning when it's become "too much" screen time. And this will be different for everybody! Certain parents will have different opinions - and that's great. Do what feels best for you and your family! For us, it's also about monitoring what they're watching as sometimes, if you're not careful, there can be some pretty inappropriate things online.
To conclude, if you are feeling like your kids are spending too much time on any device or in front of the TV, try to minimize their screen time this summer. Let this summer be about creativity and getting active! I know you can do it!