Once upon a time, my kids were addicted to gadgets. It was my fault though, because I decided to give them their own phone so I could easily contact them when I’m out of the house. Plus, I need to keep them still so I could get some work and chores done. Nonetheless, we were able to manage their phone use, particularly before the school starts.
Before that, I felt that my girls started to get addicted to gadgets. They would panic or scream when their iPad ran out of battery or if there is no Internet. The only way to keep them still when we eat out is when we give them their phone. Even at home, it’s always about watching YouTube videos. I decided to change that by slowly removing gadgets in their daily routine and introduced activities that would limit their screen time.
Yes, we succeeded.
We couldn’t eliminate it completely since I let them use during weekends, but generally, gadget use has been manageable for us. In fact, they could survive even without making clicks on their phones.
Here’s how we did it:
1. Impose restrictions.
This is a must and the first thing we did to slowly remove gadget use. Now that our girls are both in big school, we imposed a “No Phone” rule on weekdays. We also stopped letting them watch on their iPad while we eat our meals. They can’t even hold any gadgets especially during exams, no matter how much they plead in the cutest way that melts my heart. It was harsh, I know, but we need to impose strict rules to bend and eventually get rid of the not-so-good habits.
2. Always set a time limit.
In the event that I let them use their phone, I make sure I set a time limit. I let them watch for 20 to 30 minutes and that’s it. I set the timer on and once it alarmed, they know it’s time to give back the phone. It wasn’t easy at first, but I always remind them about our rule so they have no choice but to comply.
3. Encourage activities that don’t involve watching.
The kids love to draw and paint. To make it easier for them, I placed all their art materials in a big box, which they can easily access. Every time they say “Mom, I’m bored,” I just tell to go and paint. If painting starts to bore them, I also have workbooks (I buy lots of them whenever I’m inside a bookstore) and worksheets ready to rescue. There are tons of free printables online about various topics, so I just print worksheets that are fit for their age, place it inside the clearbook (so they can re-use it), and let them answer. If I’m in the mood, I look for crafting activities that we can do at home to keep the girls busy. We usually do crafting activities every summer (aside from the summer activities where we enroll them) to reduce screen time.
#TMCTip : Always bring art materials, worksheets, or workbooks wherever you go. The reason why I have a big bag is because it contains a pencil case full of crayons, sketch pad, and other art materials to keep the kids busy while we’re out.
4. Play, play, and play.
Aside from the carefully curated activities, I just let the kids play and do whatever they want. My kids are at this stage where pretend play is very effective. They could transform their room into a grocery store, pirate ship, or a castle. Sometimes, they play with Lego and sit for hours building houses, schools, and hospitals. If the weather is good, we go out and go biking.
The house is a mess, but I would rather have that (as well as active, imaginative kids) than kids who are addicted to gadgets.
5. Set a good example.
I must admit, I can’t put my phone day. There is a constant need to check emails and social media accounts regularly to make sure I won’t miss out on anything. But at what cost?
I remember one time when we were eating dinner. My husband picked up his phone because he got a message. My eldest said, “Dad, no phone while eating, right?”
The point is if we want to limit our kids with gadget use, then we need to start setting a good example for them. It would be confusing for them when we impose No Gadget Day and yet, here we are, glued to our phones. If we want to eliminate, or at least reduce gadget use on our kids, then we need to show them that we can do it too.
The bottom line –
We still let them use from time-to-time, but I’m proud to say that our girls are no longer gadget-dependent. It was challenging to reverse the habits and routines they got used to, but eventually, we were able to do it. I’m sure, you can do it too, mommas.