Screen time can feel like an uphill battle. Check out these 5 parenting hacks to help balance your kid's digital use.

Anyone else feeling like Regina Brett just… gets it?

The great news is that there’s been a more conscious effort among adults to put the phone (or screen) down—from music, to social media posts, to apps and more. 

Besides, we didn’t grow up with this kind of on-demand access to technology. The TV, mobile phone, and desktop computer were about as good as it got.

Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. – Regina Brett, New York Times bestselling author

We still remember life before smartphones, speakers, jewelry, cars and digital TVs. 

We still remember how AOL chat rooms, MySpace and other social sites changed the human experience.

But for the kids who’ve grown up with this kind of technology their entire lives—who are more likely to check their phone than brush their teeth (my own scientific guess)—the idea of taking a break from it can tend to be… well… foreign.

And rightly so (not the teeth brushing though, we must continue to fight the good fight on that one), which is all the more reason why it’s important that we create balance where our kids may not even be able to conceive of such a thing existing.

Get your mental notepad prepared and get ready to tighten those scales.

5 Helpful Hacks for Balancing Screen Time

1. Put your own screen down. 

You’ve got to "go Gandhi" on this by being the change you want to see. Is it possible that your kid is spending so much time with the screen because they don’t have much of it with you? Not trying to guilt trip you here, just making sure we take an honest assessment of the why behind the what.

2. Work hard, Play hard. 

In our household the rule is: business comes first. When they come home from school they must do homework, read for 20-30 min, and get their snack before they can enjoy any kind of screen time. Additionally, behavior and grades can affect the amount screen time they’re permitted.

3. Create a weekly “turn up” list together. 

Make "turning up" a family affair. Plan fun activities for the week and STICK TO THEM. Taco Tuesday Night is big at our house. Our blended family comes together to enjoy a full spread including margaritas served in fancy glasses. 

We play music, crack jokes, catch up on each other’s lives, and call out anyone (adults included) who try to pull out a cell phone at the table. 

The one (unspoken) rule we have is that if a cell phone gets pulled out it has to be because it’s something we all want to see (like the latest dance craze that one or all of us inevitably end up trying). Which brings me to the fourth hack:

4. Sharing is caring. 

Sometimes it’s not that there doesn’t need to be any screen time, rather it simply needs to be experienced together. My youngest daughter LOVES Minecraft and really enjoys watching YouTube videos of others playing. 

In an effort to keep tabs on the things she’s interested in (and better understand her by understanding them), I carve out some time to watch them with her. 

Admittedly, some are really boring while others leave me laughing, but the most important thing to me is that in its own unique way: the screen time she would’ve had on her own, has become an opportunity of bonding and learning between us.

5.Create a weekly “turn down” list together. 

As adults we know (or are at least learning) that balance in our lives looks a lot like being intentional about setting aside time to unwind and relax. Wouldn’t it have been great to learn that years ago? Wouldn’t it be great to teach our kids how to be intentional about that now? 

Of course. 

Consider creating a weekly turn down list with your kiddos comprised of relaxing activities—like yoga on YouTube (because free ninety-nine is a beautiful thing)—that you both like, are interested in, or can be convinced enough to try.

Explore these Tips to Unplug Every Day.

Bonus: Be spontaneous. 

When all else fails, pull out a game board, go see a movie, hit the park, look up free or new activities to do in your city—whatever it is, show your kids how to live and create a life beyond the screen!

 If you're still struggling with screen time, Zift can help! 

About Syreeta Martin

Sincerely Syreeta is the mother of two daughters who remind her to Empathize, Empower, and EVOLVE every day. She is a freelance journalist, talk show host, life coach, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur based out of Philadelphia, PA.

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