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When It’s Not Worth the Fight: 9 Small Ways to Change Screen Time Habits

Kid sitting on bed in pajamas plugging phone into charger

I could be wrong, but I have a strong hunch that screen time is a term parents of my generation don’t like. We’ve heard so many facts and rules and guidelines around screen time. But it’s 2023 and we’ve got kids who love screen time, and we’re pretty much at a loss as to what to do. The solution? My gut is telling me to try something small and realistic to start making changes in my kids’ habits. If I start small, the end goal will be to create bigger changes eventually. Here are a few options to get started.

1. Try making a rule to leave devices plugged in when not in use

One idea is to make a family rule that when devices aren’t being used at home, they have to be plugged in (or put in a set location.) This means that phones and tablets aren’t allowed to be carried around on your person at home. If it can’t go with you, there’s less temptation to check messages and open up apps.

2. Grayscale the home screen

According to [], using grayscale on your home screen can help curb screen addiction. By stripping away all the neuron-stimulating colours on your child’s phone or tablet, they’ll be less motivated to constantly check it for notifications or open up apps.

3. Do a family detox for 15 minutes

Have everyone in the family choose a set time during the day that works best and schedule a “screen-free” time. You can start with 15 minutes per day (or more or less, whatever works for you) and log it. Write it down each day and maybe even see how much time you can build up to.

Editors Note: this is my favorite! We have begun trying this as a family and it’s a great way to reconnect at the end of our busy day. We sit and talk about our day, and what the rest of the week looks like.

4. Turn screens off at least one hour before bed

Put your devices to bed at a set time and place before you go to bed each day. Out of sight, out of mind.

5. Or don’t allow screen time before the afternoon

An alternative option is to have mornings be a screen-free time instead of evenings. Choose what works best for your family’s schedule.

6. Make screens off-limits during mealtimes

Mealtimes, even on busy nights, can easily be a time for no devices—no matter what. When screens are at the table, they can get in the way of connection between family members. Besides, email and notifications can wait.

7. Farm fun

Visit a farm for some good old-fashioned fun. Tractor rides, pony rides, and hay bales are all worthy of becoming your new family tradition.
Bonus: the kids will discover both the challenge and joy of climbing a farmer’s hay bale.

8. Practice gratitude

Autumn is a time to be thankful. Enjoy some quiet moments with your kids this season to be mindful of all that you have and can do.

9. Make a plan for before screens

Before anyone goes on a screen during the day, make a plan for what should happen first. Maybe you’ll walk the dog, have breakfast, or shoot some pucks. Maybe you’ll do some yoga poses or go for a bike ride. Pick something you like to do already, and delaying screens won’t seem like a challenge.

What else would you add to this list? Are there some small changes you’ve tried in your family? We’d love to hear them! Send us your ideas to:

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