The fall and winter months are officially here and that means that the weather is getting chilly and outdoor activities aren’t as easily found. School is back in session and your kids are probably keeping busy with homework now, but after their homework is done and they’re stuck inside on a rainy evening, what activity will they turn to?
If the answer to that question is video games or endless channel surfing on TV, it’s time to start limiting that screen time. If you’re not sure how to implement this, we’ve compiled some helpful ways to set limits on the screen time that your child is allowed to have each day or week.
Tip #1: Set a limit: We teach our kids from a young age that there are limits in life – whether it’s the amount of candy they are allowed to have or how much money they are allowed to spend from their allowance each month, teaching kids to set limits is important and necessary. So why would setting limits on screen time be any different? Set a daily limit on television or computer use. For example, if your kids are used to watching TV or playing video games for 3 hours a day, cut it back by a half hour the first week. Then, for the next week, cut it back another half hour, and so on, until you reach your desired time frame of use. Cutting back gradually will make it an easier transition and it won’t feel like they’re giving up a ton.
Tip #2: Enroll them in an indoor sports team: Kids and teens today have a lot of energy and simply are not using it up because they are stuck in front of a computer or television screen so much. News reports always talk about an increase in obesity and an increase in young adult aggression or depression, but it is no wonder – our kids aren’t as active as kids were 20, 30, or 40 years ago, simply because there wasn’t the type of technology available as there is today. This is where sports can really help. Your child will not only use up that natural, God-given energy, but they will also get in shape, learn teamwork, and become well-versed in a sport. Even in the winter months when the weather gets nasty, indoor sports teams are in full swing. Indoor soccer, indoor tennis, swim teams, dance, and gymnastics – these are just some of the options available out there.
Tip #3: Take advantage of community opportunities: Check community events calendars to see what is going on. Every month, there are events offered to families, teens, and kids in the community, usually for a very low cost (and sometimes free). Check out library events, fairs, or live entertainment at local public spaces.
Wasting hours in front of a video game, watching mind-numbing television shows, or spending hours surfing online can be harmful to your child’s social skills and brain development. Engage them socially, physically, spiritually, and educationally by limiting their screen time and keeping them active.
By Brooke Strickland