How To Get Kids Off Their Smartphones And Back Into Real Life

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Getting kids off their smartphones is a goal for many parents. Many mums and dads understand that it’s not good instinctively. 

But how do you actually do that? After all, children love their phones. 

That’s the topic of this post. We look at some of the tactics you can use to reduce smartphone usage without tears. By the end, you should feel much more comfortable about how long children are using their devices. 

Accept That Change Will Take Time

You could confiscate your kids’ smartphones, but that’s unlikely to work. Going in head-long into preventing them from using their devices might cause more problems than its worth. You could have a rebellion on your hands!

Therefore, accept that change is likely to take time. While kids may eventually come around, it could take several months (and using the tactics listed in this post). 

Be consistent and look for ways to reduce smartphone usage gradually. For example, you might collect smartphones after 8 pm and prevent kids from using them before bed. You might also limit usage to two hours per day and reduce it from there. 

Use Positive Reinforcement

A related approach is to use positive reinforcement. This involves praising your children when they put down their smartphones and start doing something else. 

For example, you might say something like “that’s great that you’re out of the house and enjoying yourself.” Little encouragement like these can help children break free of smart phone usage. It gives them new experiences in life, encouraging them to explore further. 

Have A Conversation About It

Another strategy is to simply sit down and have a discussion with your child. Talking to them about their smartphone usage can provide useful insights. 

For example, if you notice them using it more than normal, just casually ask why. It could be because they are bored. But more likely it is something that has caught their interest. 

Once you get everything out in the open air, you can better understand why your children are spending so much time on their devices. It could be because they are interested in them. But it could also be a sign of a compulsion or addiction. 

Listen Carefully To Why They Use Their Phones

In a similar vein, you’ll also want to listen carefully to the reasons why they seem to be using their phones all the time. This approach can provide further insights that make it even more likely they will reduce their usage and get back to real life. 

Most of the time, kids believe they need smartphones because of their social lives. They want to talk to people online or from school, and they need a phone to do it. 

That’s okay and an understandable reason. Many young people are sociable. 

However, there might be another reason. Some children with compulsive smartphone use habits may not know why they are constantly using their phones, and they might not understand the consequences of doing so. As a parent, it is your responsibility to explain what these are so they can make better decisions in the future. 

Do Something Else Together As A Family

If simply removing smartphones from the home isn’t working, another approach is to simply do something else together as a family instead of relying on screens all the time. 

For example, you might start going on family outings, like camping or beach trips. These can be fantastic ways to spend time together and introduce kids to the real world, not just the internet. They can go cycling, fishing, and play games with other children if you go to a campsite. 

Another idea is to host movie nights. Again, these provide families with an opportunity to get together and enjoy some entertainment with each other. You could make it more exciting by whipping up some food and drinks for everyone to enjoy. 

Some families also enjoy game nights. These are where you all sit down and play a game together instead of spending all the time on devices. 

What’s amazing about these games, like mahjong, is how engaging they are. Children often become rapt in proceedings, unlike the feelings of apathy they experience when on their smartphones. 

Ultimately, what you do together as a family depends on your preferences and needs. Keep experimenting until you find something everyone enjoys and can do together sustainably. 

Encourage Creative Play

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If you’re busy or can’t spend time with your kids (because you’re running some other errand), encouraging creative play is another strategy you could try. This involves providing children with something they can experiment with for hours without getting bored, and make into their own. 

For example, you might give them a crayon set. These provide children with the ability to create drawings, maps, or color in existing sketches. It’s the sort of thing that builds hand-eye coordination skills and can keep them engaged for hours. 

You could also provide them with a Lego set if they are old enough. Giving them a tub of bricks to use can be a fantastic way to improve their spatial awareness skills and gives them the raw ingredients they require to be creative.

Finally, you might give them a pen and paper and let them do something imaginative with it. Some kids, for instance, love drawing mazes while others like creating word searches. 

It’s these little things parents don’t expect that can enthuse children and help them to engage more with the world around them. 

Be More Active

Getting kids off their smartphones can also sometimes involve being more active. Getting them out of the house and on their feet can change their mindset completely. 

This effect often happens when children go to the park. When they know they can enjoy the outdoor apparatus with other kids, it changes how they feel tremendously. Suddenly, they are happy and rushing about, lost in the moment. 

Another option is to take them biking along safe trails in your local area. These are great places for family leisure because you’re not having to worry about traffic all the time. Plus, it gives kids a sense of control and ownership over what they’re doing. Children who feel confident cycling are more likely to become independent when they are older. 

You could also drill down into specific activities your kids enjoy. For example, you might take them to a tennis or trampoline club, or give them a couple of sessions on a local climbing wall. The more you experiment, the more you will discover what they enjoy.

Get Them Interested In A Hobby Or Passion

Another tactic is to get your kids interested in a hobby or passion. Providing them with an outlet besides their smartphone gives them something else to do. 

For example, you could start them playing an instrument. Options include: 

  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Keyboard
  • Accordion
  • Flute
  • Violin
  • Drums
  • MC platforms

Hopefully, you’ll discover your children are naturals and able to pick it up quickly. Most musical kids can get away with doing an hour of practice a day – and it’s often much more fun than using a smartphone (as long as you aren’t forcing them to do it). 

If they don’t want to learn music, you still have options. For example, you could take them volunteering or look for ways to get them interested in something technical, like mathematics. Providing them with the space they need to master these extra-curricular activities can help their lives feel more complete and reduce phone-related malaise. 

Set A Time When Phone Go On Charge At Night

Setting a time when phones go on charge at night can be another option if you’re not sure about eliminating them from your household entirely. Providing kids with a set cut-off point gets them used to a routine and encourages them to try out various other activities. 

For instance, you could set a cut-off of 7 pm. After that time, kids have to do other activities. 

You might also provide them with their phones after 6 pm, allowing them to focus on getting ready in the morning and studying at school. This approach might be harder to enforce, but it also means smartphones become more of a reward after a day of work

Make Meal-Time Phone-Free

The last thing you might want to do to get kids off their smartphones and back into the real-world is making dinner times phone-free. Forbidding them from using them at the table can be a great way to encourage conversation. 

You could also apply the same rule to outings. Getting kids off their smartphones when you take family trips can help them enjoy the moment more. 

This tactic is effective because it teaches kids boundaries. While it is okay to use phones sometimes, it’s not best to use them all the time. 

It also helps you maximize the most valuable time you spend together. It doesn’t matter so much if kids use their phones during lazy weeknights when everyone is watching TV. However, it does matter if you’ve just arranged a weekend trip for everyone and want to spend time together. 

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