How to do a Digital Detox for your kids (Free Screen Time Alternatives guide inside!)

In this article: How to limit screen time for kids, signs that your child needs a digital detox, and how to communicate with your kids about the screen time detox

There is almost no way for our kids to avoid screens in today’s world. We hold a phone in our hands, and our toddlers must be very curious wondering what are we looking at all the time! Our preschoolers want to be part of using the devices, our school going kids want their own devices!

Screens are becoming part of our daily lives. While we cannot remove them, we can educate our children on how to use them.

I highly recommend you download my screen time alternatives guide – a positive parenting guide to help your little children switch off the tv without tears, screen time contract template and
30+ easy screen-free activity ideas.

In this post, I will share tips for parents who think that your kids are obsessed with screens and/or when screens have affected the family relationships.

How do you know if your kids are overly dependent on screens?

There are some signs that your child needs a digital detox. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your daily routines require a screen to maintain the peace?
  • Are the toys and activities at home left untouched because screens are more attractive?
  • Will the kids throw massive tantrums when you turn off the screens?

If your answer to the above questions is yes, your family might benefit from a screen detox. This is where you re-establish healthy routines at home without the help of screens.

Before you begin the screen detox for your home, have a discussion with the adults in the household about why a screen detox would be helpful and get everyone on the same page.

Here are some steps to implement a digital detox at home:


STEP 1: Prepare for the screen detox

Set up the home environment to make toys inviting and accessible, this will encourage independent play. Choose a suitable date to start the screen detox and communicate with your kids in advance.
Tell your children what is going to happen and why. “From next week onwards, we won’t be watching any shows. You might feel very upset because you love your shows. But we’ve decided that TV and the iPad are not helping our family. So we’re going to work together to find other activities to do.”

STEP 2: Unplug screen devices and go cold turkey

Heads up: There will be tears and protests for several days. This is normal and expected since it is a big change from what your children are used to. Support them with your presence as they transit to finding other activities to do. Children are resilient and adaptable to change. Over time, you will notice them engaging in more moments of independent play.

STEP 3: Establish new routines for screen time and keep to those boundaries

Continue going screen-free as long as possible, until you are confident that your children no longer need screens to get through their day.
Decide when and how long screens are allowed in your family’s weekly schedule. This looks different for every home, so figure out what works for you and your kids. Make sure that this is a predictable schedule and that everyone knows when the screens will be turned off.
When your family is ready, introduce those new routines and explain the boundaries around screen time.
Take baby steps, they can start with 15 minutes a day, and you can observe their behaviors. If there is progress, you can increase the duration of screen time.

You are in charge

Remember, you are the parent and you are in charge. Keep those boundaries. Turn off the screens when the time is up and support any big emotions may arise.
Your kids have already demonstrated that they can play without screens, trust that such independent play will continue to happen! Parents, you’ve got this!

If you need more tips on managing screen time meltdowns, don’t forget to grab the FREE screen time alternative guide:

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