Tips for Managing Screen Time Over Winter Break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhh, the holidays…. 

While planning celebrations, shopping for gifts, sending holiday cards, and making trips to see relatives are likely all a part of your to-do’s, you also know your parenting responsibilities don’t get put on hold just because your kids are on winter break. 

Parents can feel overwhelmed and sometimes give in to letting kids use their devices so they can get things done. 

This can lead to parent guilt and already-escalating anxiety because we’re told daily how the effects of too much screentime can negatively impact our kids’ development.

Experts say give your kids and yourself some grace. Connect with your kids by letting them know you’re there — a simple hand on their back while they play their favorite game or asking question about what they’re watching can let them know you support them.

Here are some tips to help you manage screen time during winter break:

Set limits on screen time, but do it proactively. Set those expectations ahead of the break.

Decide how much screen time you want to allow yourself each day. Stick to your limits, even if it’s hard. If you find yourself going over your limits, take a break from screens and do something else.

If you’re the parent, set the boundary and help the child keep it. In other words, it’s way easier to do another activity if the iPad isn’t on the counter. Put it away so it’s not a temptation. That’s setting a boundary that leads to success.

Make sure to get plenty of exercise and fresh air.

Exercise helps to clear your head and reduce stress, as well as improve your mood and sleep quality. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, even if it’s just a walk around the block.

Spend time with friends and family.

Spending time with people you care about is important for your mental health. It can help to reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your immune system. 

Read books, play games, or do other activities that don’t involve screens.

There are many fun and engaging activities that don’t involve screens. Try reading a book, playing a board game, or doing a puzzle. But if you do use a screen, try to use it to bond with your child. Watch a movie together and discuss it afterwards.

Model healthy screen time habits.

Acknowledge the appeal of screens. (You like your phone, too!) 

Open the conversation by leading with empathy. Share your concerns about too much screen time affecting well-being, physical health, and sleep habits, and model good behavior by putting your phone away an hour before bedtime. Turn off your TV and read a book in the evening. Set your iPad down when your child comes to ask you a question… This approach will help your child see you as living what you’re asking of him, and shows him you are on his team. Remember, moderation is key. 

Enjoy your break, but don’t forget to take care of yourself.

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