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5 Ways to Balance Your Family’s Screen Time (And Ditch the Guilt)

Family sitting down on couch viewing tv together and smilingWhen it comes to raising children, screen time usually gets a bad rap.

The fact of the matter is, digital technology is a part of everyday life for most families.

Screen time and digital technology can be part of a healthy lifestyle if balanced with other activities.

So how do you ensure your family strike’s a healthy screen time balance? Read our top 5 tips below.

1. Start with Yourself

For many parents, the saying, “do as I say and not as I do” rings true when it comes to screen time. We often have high expectations around screens with our children, but then turn around and spend an exorbitant amount of time checking our devices. Children pick up on this discrepancy.

Before you get on your kids for their screen time usage, set some screen time boundaries for yourself. Be open and honest with your children about your goals and the challenges that come with balancing screen time. Balancing screen time is a lifelong endeavor, and regular check-ins as a family (and as an individual) are needed.

2. Stick with a Routine

Want to reduce the amount your child whines about screens? Establish a screen time routine. Kids thrive when they know what to expect. They will ask for screen time less if they know that screen time is scheduled. The key here is consistency.

When should you schedule a screen time? And for how long? It will vary family by family. A regular routine will help you to intentionally build your screen time and digital technology use into your family life in a healthy, balanced way.

Girl smiling while looking at screen

3. Establish a “Tech Free Time” Everyday

Set a time every day when everyone (including the adults) is required to be off of their screens. This could be during family dinner, before bedtime or any other time during the day that works best for your family.

4. Keep Screens out of Bedrooms

If your children are old enough to have their own device, have them charge that device outside of the bedroom. Experts advise that everyone (children and adults) should limit their screen time before bed. Numbers vary but many agree to stop using screens at least 30-60 minutes before going to bed).

5. Eliminate Background TV

Unplugged and unstructured playtime is critical to a child’s development. Eliminating background tv is an easy way to reduce your family’s overall screen time consumption.

Screen Time And Eye Health

Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain and vision problems. In order to see our screens clearly, our eyes shift into nearsightedness when we view them. If we do not give our eyes a break, over time this can slowly change the shape of our eyeballs.

Dr. Susan Dini, a teaching associate at the University of Washington Department of Ophthalmology said in an interview for UW’s publication Right as Rain, “With chronic screen time and close up viewing, we are actually seeing more progression in nearsightedness. We are not creatures that were meant to sit in front of screens all day long”.

The key to preventing vision damage from screens?

Take breaks. Many eye doctors recommend their patients stick to the 20-20-20 rule, which is to look at something that is twenty feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds every 20 minutes of screen time.

Everything in life requires balance. Screen time, if used intentionally, can enhance your family’s life and provide a plethora of opportunities for learning and connection.