Are you up for the challenge? Can you turn your TV off for a week? This includes not only TV but streaming videos on TV’s, tablets, or phones. Don’t worry… we know you can do it! Then again, you might be surprised how much time you or your children spend using screen-based entertainment. If you find yourself struggling, try some of these ideas:
Start with a discussion about screen time usage. Set aside a time when all family members come together. Let everyone know that you're wanting to talk about the screen time viewing habits of all the family, without singling out anybody. Have some favorite snacks on hand to help everyone feel at ease because more than likely, some may not be happy about this discussion.
Having some facts and statistics on hand to back up your concerns. A little internet searching will bring back some astonishing figures on the amount of time families spend in front of some kind of screen. It will possibly be an eye-opener for you too.
Do your best to avoid "demonizing" screens. A moral tirade about the "evils" of screen addiction will cause some members of the family to rebel and not listen to your concerns. It is much better to present the basic facts, to crack a few jokes that highlight the problem, and to encourage family members to think about what they're missing out on because of too much screen time than to simply say screens are bad. Remember, the idea is to minimize screen time, to teach good self-discipline habits in relation to it, rather than to cutting it out totally.
Start the discussion rolling. Try asking some open ended questions like, how many hours do you think you’re watching at the moment? What sorts of things do you think you might be doing instead? Do you think we’re doing enough things together as a family? If so, why? If not, why not? What could we do better together?
Be understanding and be ready to suggest alternatives. For many family members, their favorite screen has become a source of relaxation, distraction, and switching off from working or studying hard. For others, it's a source of convenience that lets them get some peace and quiet to get work done while others quietly watch what they want. And this will cause some family members to feel that being asked to watch less is attacking their relaxation time or daily routine. It can be helpful to remind everyone that this is a "brainstorming" session, where every single family member has a role in expressing their feelings about screen time as a household, and to share ideas about what they'd like to do to reduce it.
Suggest the family go cold turkey for a week. Suggest that everyone just take a week off to see how things feel and how they can change without screens being involved. Go out and do other things for the week. At the end of this period, have a round-up of what family members have done instead of watching their favorite screen. Share the experience with one another and share the excitement and enlightenment of doing other things. Here are a few ideas of what you can do during that week: Set-up reading time as a family. Organize a family night. Choose which Brag Badge activities each member of the family would like to complete.
Set-Up viewing times. Suggest that from this point on, screen viewing become a conscious act focused on quality and not quantity. Favorite shows can be included in this "quality" but they must fit within a set amount of time. Once the time is up, the screen goes off for that family member.
After you've established and kept your own screen viewing goals, be sure to hand ou the Screen Slayer Brag Badge to each person.
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