One of the most common questions that parents today want an answer to is, “How do I get my kids off electronics?” With online lessons becoming the new norm, children are spending more time in front of screens than ever before. While this may affect their physical well-being, it also has effects on interpersonal relationships. The digital world may get in the way of children learning about the real world and face-to-face relationships. This is why young people need to socialize, make friends, and explore the outdoors. When they discover the real world, they will be able to form meaningful relationships too. If you’re wondering how to get kids off electronics, our helpful tips will have your back!
Have Some Device-Free Fun!
When you’re trying to limit screen use and increase family bonding and physical activity, planning an adventure can be an enticing way to get the kids’ attention! It’s not always easy to come up with creative things to do, but with Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition, you’ll have 50+ suggestions at your fingertips. Each page of this interactive book has an exciting scratch-off challenge. Find some new ways to have fun today!
1. Start a family log.
The first step of how to get your kids off electronics is to maintain a family screen time log for a week. This will help you identify which devices and apps your children use the most, be it their computer, cell phone, or iPad.
The rules are simple—ask every family member to note down how much screen time they spend on each electronic device in a day. You can use the Screen Time app on your phone to collect this information.
Then, check how much of their free time is spent on gadgets. This works well with older children (like pre-teens, tweens, and teenagers). Once you show them the numbers (for instance, “You spend 60% of your free time on your phone), they will be motivated to replace it with more enjoyable activities.
2. Set a time limit.
Once you’ve had an insight into the amount of time is spent on each gadget, set limits and timers accordingly. Ideally, your child should spend a quarter or less of their free time on electronics. Use a timer so that your child can see how much time they have, and plan accordingly. Try to time these limits with natural breaks. This will establish some simple time management rules too.
For example, if you want your child to spend no more than an hour playing video games, ask them to stop after they’ve finished a level ahead of time. If you ask them to stop midway, they might not be very enthusiastic about following the rules.
3. Require coupons for media use.
A simple way to reduce screen time and keep your children engaged is to incentivize gadget-free time. After you do the math and decide upon the number of hours of screen time a day, break it down into coupons of 15 minutes each.
For every hour that your child reads a book or plays outdoors, they get a coupon to spend 15 minutes of screen time.
These coupons will also help set limits. For example, only 2 coupons can be redeemed simultaneously. This will help your children take optimal breaks.
You can also have contests to see who spends the most time without gadgets. The person that can stay the longest without a gadget gets to pick dessert for the next family meal!
4. Don’t use “phone time” as a reward.
When you give out screen time coupons, make sure you don’t end up using them as rewards for good behavior. For example, if your child scores well on a test, don’t give them extra phone time coupons as a reward. Remember that the coupons are to increase the time spent without screens.
Give them the screen time coupons only after they’ve spent time on alternative activities (like playing outdoors, DIYing some crafts, or building a hobby).
5. Use parental control settings.
When it comes to how to keep kids off electronics, parental control settings can be a valuable resource. It helps limit screen time, particularly with toddlers and preschoolers.
Young children may not understand rules and negotiation. In this case, you can use timed parental control settings that freeze the screen when time is up.
Similarly, you can password-protect apps to have more control over how long they spend on gadgets.
Keep in mind that conversation and negotiation is the most sustainable solution when dealing with gadgets. Use passwords and parental control settings sparingly; try to replace them with rule-setting and positive reinforcement.
6. Don’t use electronics as a distraction.
A common mistake that parents might do is to use electronics to distract younger children (particularly during mealtime). If you use electronics to keep your children occupied while you work, it will get difficult to wean them off the habit.
Use other activities like board games, coloring books, and hobbies to engage your children. Eat meals mindfully, and try not to use phones as a distraction while feeding them.
7. Start a long-term project.
If you’re wondering how to keep kids off electronics in a sustainable way, a long-term hobby is key. A long-term passion project is a wonderful way to keep your children occupied during vacation and summer breaks.
For example, turn a small portion of your backyard into a garden. Let your child be in charge of everything garden-related—right from picking which seeds to plant, sowing them, watering them, and caring for them. This will give them something meaningful to do every day. They will be more likely to spend time tending to the garden, doing their research, and taking care of their new interest.
Similarly, you can also take up woodworking, long-term science projects, repair work, home renovation projects, and many more. The older your child, the more you can involve them while brainstorming and researching new solutions. This will give you some great bonding moments too!
8. Have gadget-free times.
A simple rule when it comes to limiting electronic use is to establish media-free time. For example, mealtime is a great time to limit the use of phones. If children use electronics while eating food, they may not be mindful about what they eat. Instead, have family meals together and have meaningful conversations with the little ones. The dinner table should be an iPhone-free zone.
Similarly, using electronics right before bed is not a good idea. The blue light from the screen may interfere with their sleep cycle, making it difficult for them to fall asleep.
So, some optimal screen-free times would be during mealtime, right before bed, and during homework time.
9. Have gadget-free days.
In case you’re looking for ways to engage the whole family, organize a gadget-free day. Not only will this help you reduce screen time, but it will bring the entire family together and help them bond. Start slowly by organizing a gadget-free evening every week.
You can spend this time playing some board games or trying an activity from Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition. Using the guide next to each adventure, you can pick an activity that will keep you occupied all evening. Slowly, you can build this into an entire day of no gadgets—just quality time!
10. Go outdoors.
One of the easiest ways to get your child off electronics is to take them outdoors. Be it on evening family picnics, walks to the park, a neighborhood scavenger hunt, playdates, or basketball games, enjoying the outdoors is a quick way to wean them off devices.
Children are always looking to discover exciting things. When you make the outdoors seem more exciting, they will pick it over staying in their room and playing video games.
Take your children out for games in the park or beach every evening. If you have a backyard, play some games with them every day. They’ll get some exercise, and stay off the phone!
11. Get crafty.
In case you’d like your children to stay indoors, get crafty!
Buy some art supplies off Amazon and try painting, drawing, or making crafts. Younger children will love finger painting, vegetable printing, and making slime. Older kids will love making sculptures, cards, and other nifty items.
You can also keep them occupied by trying out some science experiments. Not only will they have an epic time, but they’ll also learn something new!
12. Spend family time.
After you’re back from a day of work, spend some quality time with your kids. You can try reading a book together, playing some card games, taking a walk, or even cooking some new recipes together. When you replace gadget-time with family time, your children will enjoy spending time with people and making meaningful memories.
13. Spend time online together.
Placing a blanket ban on gadgets is not a sustainable thing to do; your child may be more likely to rebel. However, leaving your children unsupervised on the internet is also not ideal. A simple compromise is to join them. If your child loves playing video games, try playing Fortnite or Minecraft with them. This way, the entire family will be able to connect and bond over a common interest. After your daily limit, the whole squad can stop using gadgets and do something else together.
If your child misses the thrill and excitement of video games, why not bring the fun IRL? A scavenger hunt is an epic way to spend some energy, get the adrenaline rush going, and get some quality time in. Let’s Roam offers a variety of app-led scavenger hunts for the family, both outside the house and inside!
14. Set a good example and be firm.
When it comes to how to keep kids off electronics, the most important thing to do is to set a good example and be a role model. Children learn by observing the adults around them. If you spend too much time on the computer or your phone, chances are, your children will do so too.
When you set a good example and follow all the rules of the house, your children will follow suit. So if you set a no-phone rule during mealtime, make sure you follow it too.
This also means you have to be firm with your boundaries and rules. Whenever you set a boundary with your children, talk to them about the consequences of their actions. Talk to them about how it makes you feel when your boundaries are being disrespected. Grounding may work with older children, but significant change will occur when you talk about your authentic feelings.
Remember—cooperation and mutual respect are key!
When you’re wondering how to get kids off electronics and social media, you might be tempted to have gadget bans and impose strict rules. While your frustration is understandable, the goal of gentle parenting is not to ban technology at home. The idea is to strike a balance between technology and real-world activities. When you make the alternative to gadgets seem worth it, your children will naturally stop using gadgets excessively. Interesting activities (like a page out of Adventures From Scratch) can make a huge difference!
Frequently Asked Questions
To help get kids off electronics, spend meaningful time with them at home by playing games, starting new hobbies, and enforcing some consistent rules.
When you’re trying to reduce screen time and get kids off electronics, try using a coupon system to balance online and gaming time with other aspects of their lives.