In the first part of this discussion, we explored the mental health effects of screen time on children and adults. Some screen exposure is unavoidable, such as work obligations or online classes. Nevertheless, there are ways to take control of your family’s screen time and improve your overall quality of life. Let’s take a look at proven ways to reduce screen time as a family.
How to Limit Screen Time as a Family
While there is a need for screens in today’s world, there are plenty of times you can go without. Here are some ways to limit screen time as a family and improve your mental health.
- Designate screen-free times for the family. Mealtimes, car rides, family nights and bedtime should be screen-free moments. Commit to this as a family (that means no phone for you either!). If you can’t figure out what to talk about, look up some fun conversation starters in advance or choose a board game everyone will love.
- Set an example for your children. If they see you on the phone all day long, they’re going to mimic the behavior. Find other ways to entertain yourself in your spare time, and encourage your children to do the same.
- Plan for outdoor activities. Something as simple as a nightly walk in the neighborhood or an hour of backyard play time will do wonders for family bonding and your mental health.
- Participate in your child’s screen time. If your child is playing games or interacting on social media, be a part of the process. You can also invite your child to play a game with you online or watch a funny video on your phone. This encourages open communication about social media, which could limit dangers later on.
- Create a weekly schedule with screen time allotted. This is the “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach. Rather than forbidding screens completely, set specific times for online gaming or playing on the phone. This will tell your children exactly when they can use their screens, and it will eliminate the “can I please???” conversations.
- Explore new hobbies together. This is a perfect opportunity to try something new as a family. Maybe you’re a family that loves to paint rocks or do puzzles together on the dining table. Maybe you’re a bowling family or a forts-in-the-living-room family. There is an endless world of possibilities waiting for you outside of the screens.
Need Mental Health Support? Our Therapists Are Here for You
If you’re struggling to bond as a family or you have individual mental health issues you’d like to address, our licensed therapists are here to assist you. CNLD Testing & Therapy provides in-person counseling and teletherapy sessions for individuals, couples and families. We have family counselors, couples therapists, child counselors and other mental health specialists on staff. Visit our judgement-free therapist office in Ann Arbor MI or call (734) 994-9466 to schedule an appointment.