5 Steps to Help Your Children Unplug from Screens

If your children are always plugged into electronic devices, it might be time for you to intervene and find a solution. Today, we'll share five steps to help your children unplug from their screens.
5 Steps to Help Your Children Unplug from Screens

Last update: 26 June, 2021

Over the past few months, many parents have arrived at the psychologist’s office because their children spend too much time in front of screens. And, due to our current situation, things have gotten worse. This is why we’ll share five steps to help your children unplug from screens. 

Different studies talk about the time children spend in front of screens and its negative consequences. Among these consequences, we can mention social isolation, obesity, vision problems, and loss of muscle mass.

Help your children unplug from screens: consequences of technology abuse

According to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics magazine, children who spend too much time in front of screens are more irritable, have memory problems, attention problems and concentration problems. 

As a result, children who spend too much time in front of screens may suffer from:

  • Social isolation.
  • Depression.
  • Childhood obesity.
  • Stress.
  • Irritability.
  • Vision problems.
  • Behavior problems, which may lead to family issues.
  • Poor school performance.
  • Sedentariness, which leads to loss of muscle mass.
  • Anxiety.

Five steps to help your children unplug from screens

Most of the games, apps, social media platforms are designed to give us pleasure when using them. Therefore, if it’s quite hard for adults to control the use of these activities, imagine what happens to children? In the case of children, it becomes even more complicated because they’re more immature and have less self-control.

This is why we’ll give you these tips to help you reduce your children’s screen time. Hopefully, these five steps will help you control the situation.

Keep calm: your children may not suffer from an addiction to screens

Even though children may find it hard to spend less time in front of screens, it doesn’t mean they’re addicted to them.

An addiction occurs when, besides suffering from social isolation, children stop going out to dinner or the movies with their parents because they prefer to be online. Furthermore, they have poor school performance and have arguments with their parents about this issue.

If you don’t see yourself in this situation, this plan will probably work. However, you should set some limits, provide them with alternatives and be persistent and constant.

Set limits to disconnect them from screens in a progressive way

You should start these healthy habits from an early age. Once your children start using screens, you must talk to them and limit their time and place.

Maybe, when you were at dinner with friends, you decided to give them your phone or table to keep them calm. Well, before doing it again, you should think about the possible consequences of that action.

Talk to them, and tell them that spending too much time in front of screens may be bad for their health. However, try not to forbid screens, because if you do it, you’ll prevent them from having a healthy relationship with them. In fact, they’ll end up wanting them even more.

Set a time and place

You must set a time and place for them to use screens. For example, they can use them in a common room, but not during meals. Besides, you shouldn’t leave them alone. You must supervise them and set parental control on the devices they use.

In addition, you should limit their time. However, the quality of what they watch is more important than the amount of time they spend using the devices. If they’re watching something educational, it might not be as harmful as if they’re playing a game.

You shouldn’t forbid them to use screens, because it’d be far too abrupt. You should try to reduce their screen time progressively. In fact, the best thing to do is to educate them to have a healthy relationship with electronic devices.

Girl online on cellphone

Be an example for them when it comes to screen time

It won’t be of any help for them if you spend too much time in front of screens, too. So, you should all disconnect.

Spend time with your children, go outside, and do something fun

A screen should never substitute family time. You must spend time with your children, cooking, taking a walk, or cleaning the house for example.

Make good use of any opportunity you have to go out with them. Spend time in nature and enjoy its beauty. Besides, screens are bad for your eyes, because they’re a constant and focused stimulus. On the contrary, nature offers you better stimulus, such as clouds, trees, or birds.

In conclusion, reducing your children’s screen time doesn’t have to be that hard. If you follow these steps, your children’s relationship with technology will be healthier.

If you think they may have an addiction problem, you should visit a specialist for more information. And, remember that in order to unplug them from screens you should do it first. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Adelantado-Renau M, Moliner-Urdiales D, Cavero-Redondo I, Beltran-Valls MR, Martínez-Vizcaíno V, Álvarez-Bueno C. Association Between Screen Media Use and Academic Performance Among Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis . JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(11):1058–1067
  • Diehl, D. C., & Toelle, S. C. (2011). Tomando buenas decisiones: Medios de comunicación y salud física de los niños pequeños, consejos para los padres. EDIS, 2011(7).
  • Jubany, J. (2017). ¿Hiperconectados. Educar en un Mundo Digital, 1-160. https://www.lectio.es/tasts/Hiperconectados_TAST.pdf
  • Sweetser  P, Johnson  DM, Ozdowska  A, Wyeth  P.  Active versus passive screen time for young children.  Aust J Early Child. 2012;37(4):94-98.
  • Madigan S, Browne D, Racine N, Mori C, Tough S. Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(3):244–250.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.