limit screen time

How to Escape the TV Trap and Limit Screen Time

Brad stopped by his friend Steve’s house to drop off some tools he’d borrowed and to enjoy a brief visit. One of Steve’s kids was watching baseball in the kitchen. So they grabbed their coffee and moved into the family room—only to find Steve’s wife was watching a loud sitcom with their daughter. Finally, they retreated to the basement where Steve quickly turned off the NFL classics he had been watching on the big screen TV.

“I can’t believe how television dominates Steve’s home,” Brad told his wife, Cheryl, when he got home.

“Look around,” she laughed, “we’re in exactly the same boat. “It’s easy to see clearly when something’s happening to someone else.”

“Family meeting?” Brad ventured. “We’ve got to work to limit screen time—for all of us.”

“You bet,” Cheryl said. “You know we can do better than this.”

Here are some ways Brad and Cheryl’s family learned how to escape the TV trap and limit screen time:

Media Madness

Remember your parental responsibility to help your kids manage their media exposure. [Tweet This] Guidelines that are clear and reasonable help everyone. When we add up how much screen time (TV, computer, video games, phones) our children log, the statistics are startling. The same applies to the parents.

Dining Pleasure

Reinstitute the family dinner. Move away from random evenings at home. Begin by dining together, without media, and set the tone for direct communication as a family. This adds a purposeful element to family life. When dinner together isn’t optional, it sets the trajectory for the balance of the evening.

Family Meeting

Everyone picks one show for the family to watch together. Instead of banning TV, make it a family activity. By the way, that’s not one show per person, per night but one show per person, per week. After the chosen show, turn the TV off and spend 15 minutes talking about it.

Think Tank

Institute a “Family Homework Hour”. Everyone has paperwork to do – if only reading a book or the paper. Why not do it together? Gather around the dining table, help each other out, and make learning a family experience and a priority. Add snacks and an open spirit of cooperation. Concentration is a good discipline, but isolation isn’t necessary.

Game Time

Schedule a “Family Game Night”. Remember Monopoly? Scrabble? Go Fish? There are many activities that can break the monotony of the flickering TV screen. The bonus is better family communication. Remember: Developing a family first culture requires planning and commitment.

© 2014 All Pro Dad. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

Sound Off

How does TV play in your home? Do the guidelines work? Is anyone actually calling the shots?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

Subscribe to the Play of the Day for daily advice, videos and updates on how to be better dad.

Huddle Up as a family and talk about television. Ask these questions: “What does TV do to bring us together as a family?” and “What do we enjoy doing together here at home?”

foster and adoption
Did You Get It?
Every Man's Bible
Florida Prepaid