Screen Free Week Nights? Is it possible?

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Remember a time before mobile screens? As a kid you probably spent a lot of your time outside, enjoying nature, learning interesting and useful tips as you went. It was a simpler time. Even as recently as the 2000’s, kids were spending far less time glued to devices.

Australian National Physical activity and sedentary guidelines recommend less than two hours screen time per day for teens.

Today it’s almost unavoidable. Screen time continues to rise. You’ve heard 20 different versions from friends, family, other parents or co-workers, each giving you different answers about how much screen time your kids should be getting.

Here are the facts. Fresh from the Australian National Physical activity and sedentary guidelines, coming straight out of the Australian Department of Health.

  • Kids less than 2 years old – ZERO recommended screen time! (This includes watching television, electronic media, DVDs, computers and electronic games).
  • Kids 2-5 years – Less than 1 hour p/day.
  • 5-17 years – Less than two hours p/day.

These figures don’t take into account the amount of time kids spend on screens at school, this is the focus for when they’re at home.

But how can you keep them off their devices at home?

But how can you keep them off their devices at home?

The guys at Perimeter Guardian have a 5 step plan to screen free week nights.

  1. Communicate the change: Let them know your reasons and give them time to get used to the idea before enforcing it (i.e. talk Friday night, begin Monday).
  2. Set an example: Leave your phone out of sight (you can set up automatic text and phone replies if you’re worried about ignoring people) while having dinner together.
  3. Plan and prepare: Set after-school routines including homework, showers and free time. Have a list of family activities (i.e. board games, outings). Let them take turns choosing one – you’ll need answers when they’re looking for things to do!
  4. Do homework in a communal area: if your child needs a computer, allow them to use one in the communal area. If they can’t concentrate, allow headphones. This differentiates between schoolwork and other screen time.
  5. Be consistent and persistent: Don’t give in! The whining will stop when they realise you aren’t caving! Kids are adaptable and will soon thrive away from the screen.
Look familiar? The Australian Department of Health recommends limiting screen time for kids.