Minimizing Screen Time for Little Ones


If you just sign up for 576 activities then you’ll never have to worry about this. But seriously, screen time is something that many parents seek to avoid. Even doctors encourage families to avoid it. So, why are we still doing it so much? Our little ones love their shows, the stimulation, and the music. As they get older, they love video games and games on their phones/iPads/tablets. We can even say up to an age where they love things like texting and social media. Sure we all use these things as adults. Maybe too much?
Or just enough? It’s hard to say.

But when it comes to our kids we want the best.

We want to teach them how to live, thrive, and be themselves with and without the screen. Minimizing screen time for little ones is easier said than done. Even for us adults as we tether ourselves to our phones. We find ourselves on them for an hour after bedtime every night on Instagram or binging Netflix shows on the weekend. Even our workouts are often screen-related and right now you are reading this article on a screen.

So for the kids, it’s our instinct to mirror this pattern. We all know it’s easier to give them a show to watch on your phone at dinner or plop them down in front of the TV when you need to do household chores. Sometimes it is just easier when things get difficult rather than correcting the behavior especially if you’re in a social setting, out at a restaurant, or you are just exhausted from another long day.

One of my favorite ways to keep the kids off the screens is outdoor time. And if you know me, you know that I love being outdoors. Whether it’s in the winter, and we are out in the yard playing, or at the mountains skiing… Or if it’s summer, we are camping or scootering or running amuck in the yard with the dog. But beyond that, I like finding other ways to be outside. Even if we are having dinner, reading, or building something out of sticks outdoors. Outdoors also help us to stay regulated.

If being outdoors, often isn’t your thing, I hear you!

There are days that I don’t want to go outside, especially in the pouring rain, bitter cold, or excruciating heat. And somehow, here in Massachusetts, we have all three. If we aren’t outside, we have things like crafts. We love painting in the bathtub in our swimsuits because then we can rinse off after and it’s easy to clean up. We love building with Legos, rolling around on our Nuggets, hanging from gymnastics bars, and playing with trains.

That said we are so invested and interested in a television show sometimes that we can’t think of anything else to do. So why not make a game out of it? Perhaps you are Bluey and Bingo, playing house. Or perhaps you are the Spidey team, out to save the day. Maybe you are the Wild Kratts, investigating, and learning about the different creatures you thought up in your home.

When I was young, kids said “I’m bored” a lot less than we hear these days. In a lot of ways, I feel that screen time has crafted this boredom because they lack something to do when they aren’t 100% stimulated. Fostering creativity, encouraging the use of their imagination, finding ways to play in nature, and being and playing with them are the best ways to minimize screen time and make memories.

When your little ones look back on their childhood, they’re not going to remember watching TV with us while we scroll through Instagram. But they will remember the crafts, games, outside time, and memories.


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