Breaking the technology habit starts with you

Technology. Electronics. Computers. Tablets. Phones. Screen Time.

More and more often these are becoming “bad” words when you talk about parenting. You see kids glued to screens and the memes about Fortnite. Pediatricians and teachers are encouraging less screen time and more play time. It’s easy to feel the parent guilt for the days when you just need that time when you can get things accomplished and the electronics come out. I am as guilty as the rest of them. (Working from home is hard!)

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How do you pull them out of this habit once it is started?

It is pretty easy to reroute the kids’ habits to encourage more play and less screens. You are probably asking, if it is so easy, then why isn’t it done more often? Well, because to do it, we parents need to set the example and do it too. Yep. That is the key.

Less screens for kids = Less screens for us.

I am a self-proclaimed smart-phone addict, so I know how horrible this sounds. For me it was actually anxiety-inducing. The mere thought of putting my phone aside, my computer shut down, being disconnected- sent my heart rate through the roof. I don’t want my kids to feel like that when they get older.

I found that for myself the easiest way was to get forced into it. I took an unplugged vacation with my family for 4 days. It was intimidating to leave it behind. In the span of 4 days, I learned more about my own kids than I had in a long time. We bonded, laughed, and learned so much.

If cold turkey doesn’t work for you, start small. Set a schedule to turn it all off for an hour a night and focus on family (This doesn’t include meal time-don’t cheat). Plan things to do during this hour so you can keep yourself occupied. You might find that hour goes by a lot faster than you thought it would.

Need some ideas to get things started?

  • Create a board game with your kids.

  • Play a card game.

  • Draw portraits of each other.

  • Go bug hunting in the yard.

  • Family chore time! (My personal favorite)

  • Make a family bucket list. (Then when the next screen time comes around, use it to look up information on completing the list.)

  • Make a craft! I taught my 4 and 5 year old how to make friendship bracelets, and to my surprise, they are still a hit with kids. We recently tried perler beads too, and I can NOT pull them away.

  • Teach them a game you played as a kid.

  • Have them teach you a game. My boys have surprised me with games they knew that I have no knowledge of.

Before you know it, it’ll be easier to get the kids away from the electronics. They’ll want that interaction from you, more that the interaction of touching a screen. Lead by example. Screen time is no exception.

One of our no screen activities- helping prepare dinner.

One of our no screen activities- helping prepare dinner.

We are living in the 21st century.

It’s impossible to avoid screen time. So when they do get it, make it something interactive and educational. If they are young enough to still think Mom & Dad are cool, make screen time family time. Have them teach you how to play their favorite game, or watch a video together.

My personal favorite- pull up all the ridiculous videos that went viral when we were younger- my boys are in love with Pineapple Pen.

Use technology to encourage non-technology time.

We also have some time together as a family and watch videos on youtube of different science experiments. I try to find things that will encourage my kids to get off the electronics and explore the world around them. Find crafting videos, hiking videos, cooking videos, anything that will inspire your kids to get up and do something. Think about social media- how many times do we see those videos with an awesome recipe and think- ‘that looks easy enough. I should make that.’

Technology isn’t inherently bad.

It’s the examples we are setting for our kids that creates the ‘bad’ part. We spend time mindlessly scrolling social media, interacting with friends/family/strangers through a screen. Encourage not only less screen time (for yourself and your kiddos) but more meaningful time when you are in front of the screen. Let’s face it, with so many people working from home, or needing something to keep your child from swinging from the rafters in the doctors office, screen time is going to be there. There is virtually no way to avoid it. So use it to feed their brains.

So now that you are done reading this, get off your phone/tablet/computer and start setting that example. Come back in an hour and let me know in the comments how it went. Were you crying in the corner (I thought I was going to the first time), or did you feel oddly free?


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About the contributor:

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Erin Berry is a Documentary and Lifestyle Family Photographer living in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. She is mom to two boys, ages 5 and 4. You can find more information on her work here. (If you are in the area, you should get in touch with her if you need some fun family photos!) Instagram | Facebook

**Personal note: I am by no means an expert in parenting. {I mean, I am 2 for 2 on number of kids that put legos up their nose. Far enough to require a doctors visit too.} My advice is just that, advice that works for my family. My kids have more screen time than their friends I am sure, but I try my best to balance it with active and creative activities as well. So just remember, I am just another parent trying to make it through the day with the goal of keeping my kids alive. If I can eventually teach them to be good humans, that’s a bonus.**


If you would like to be a guest blogger over here at Kids G.O. Adventure, just reach out and let us know. We would love to hear your take on how you gets kids off electronics and outdoors!

Adventure on,

Heather