Like it or not, technology has become a major part of our lives. Television, computers, smartphones, and tablets … most households have at least one (if not all) of these nifty devices. But if we’re not careful, our “screens” can become distracting and sometimes, even addictive. So why not try penciling in some “screen-free” time for your family this summer? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Don’t expect to conquer Rome in a day. Instead, start small. Try going screen-free for 24 hours. Then, try an entire weekend. Gradually increase the amount time as you desire, and find what works for your family. (There is no one-size-fits-all.) Remember, you can do anything for a week! Don’t want to go totally screen-free? That’s okay. You can try being “screen-reduced” – limiting the number of hours you use technology each day.
Replace With Fun Activities
Find fun alternatives to screen time. We have a great list of 101 fun screen-free activities to get you started. When you feel the urge to pick up the tablet or phone, choose something else to keep you busy. Read a book, or go for a walk; it will eventually become a habit to not reach for a screen. Soon you’ll forget what you are missing.
Lead by Example
Parents, it will be really difficult to get your kids on board if you aren’t doing the same thing. Of course, adults and parents may need to use computers for work or to pay bills and so on. Explain this to your family, and perhaps develop some rules when screens are allowed. Lead by example. Don’t let them catch you “cheating” during your free time!
Focus on the Benefits
When you go screen-free or cut back on your screen time, you’ll find there are some really great benefits: more time together as a family, and some people even notice that they save money! Make a list of the benefits you notice as you go through the process. It will help reinforce why you are doing this in the first place.
Make it Hard to Cheat
If you are really struggling, try a few tactics to make it harder to cheat. Put the TV in a closet. Cancel your cable subscription. Password-protect your wifi. Whatever works!
Plan a Special Reward
The transition can be tough, for sure. Make plans to have a special family outing as a reward for going “screen-free” or “screen-reduced.” If everyone is involved in the planning, all the better. Give them some really special events to look forward to, like a day at the beach or a road trip to a favorite location.
Find a Good Balance
You don’t have to be totally screen-free forever. Maybe it’s just something you do for a season. Maybe it will lead to new family habits. Perhaps after the experience you are inspired to limit screen-time to a certain amount of time each day or week. Remember, this isn’t one-size-fits-all. Choose what works best for your family. And don’t let yourself get consumed with guilt. Technology isn’t a bad thing at all – it’s the way we use it that matters most.