In this technological age, almost everything is served with a side of screen time. While children of all ages can learn plenty from their devices, it can be both physically and mentally draining in excess. Furthermore, too much screen time reduces opportunities for family bonding and interaction. Generally, it’s a good idea to try and reduce screen time in certain situations, like in the car. However, this may be easier said than done. After all, kids today treat their phones/tablets like an extension of their own arms! Keep reading for a list of handy tips to successfully cut screen time in the car for the whole family.
10 Be The Role Model
Step one, of course, is not to be a hypocrite. This is generally a great idea for any form of parenting, but it will be especially crucial here. It may be tempting to scroll through your emails or send a few texts as your partner drives, but keep in mind that your kids are watching and learning.
In fact, one of the most difficult arguments to counter is “But mom, you do this all the time!” Try to limit your own phone time and set a good example for the kids. Make a point of pointing out nearby scenery or landmarks to them instead! Not only will your eyes and mind thank you for the break, but you might also enjoy the ride much more.
9 Set A Time Limit
Secondly, the wonders of technology also provides you with a method of controlling excess screen time. For most devices, there are handy parental control settings available for you to put to use. The majority of models will also give you the option to limit times by apps. You can either set an overall time limit for the device or simply but restrictions on certain games and activities.
No matter which you choose, you’ll be giving your kids the opportunity to explore outside of their device. Be firm, but clearly explain the rules and restrictions that you’ve given them. Kids tend to listen more when you’re honest and treat them like a responsible equal!
8 Bring Books
A wonderful alternative to games and television is a stack of old-fashioned books. You should try to get your kids interested in reading early on, as this is a hobby that they’ll benefit from their whole lives. Take your kids to the bookstore as a treat before the trip, and let them pick out a few favorites to bring along.
On the trip, encourage your children to dive into their adventure in reading rather than gaming. Who knows, they may even choose books over their screens all by themselves. Not only will their screen time be reduced, but they’ll also learn new things and practice reading skills! There’s no better way to kill two birds with one stone.
7 Leave Devices At Home
An easy solution to solving a problem is to simply remove the root cause. In this case, you could try to enforce rules for your kids to leave the devices at home during short trips. (Or long ones too, for that matter.) They may be unwilling at first, but you can negotiate with them.
Perhaps they could be allowed limited access on the way there, but hand the iPads over to you on the way back. Reason with your children and let them know that they’re being heard, but be firm all the same. Although this might leave them restless and bored at first, soon they’ll find that there’s plenty of entertainment outside of the screen.
6 Bring Activities
Similar to books, activities such as Legos and coloring books are also great alternatives to distract your kids from their screens. Not only will such tasks occupy your child in a fun and entertaining way, but it might also save you from the well-known chorus of “are we there yet.” Depending on your child’s age group, there are several different activity-set options you could bring.
If they’re a toddler, look into safe toys with creativity and attention-seeking bright colors. A great option is a toy xylophone. For older kids, you could bring Legos and incite a building competition between siblings, or have some activity books handy along with crayons.
5 Play Road Trip Games
From I Spy to road trip bingo, there are countless options to keep your kiddos entertained without the use of an electronic device. Participating in these fun classic games will not only reduce screen time for everyone but promote family bonding as well.
You can find tons of printable templates online for games such as Bingo and Sudoku, or you can pull out some older classics that just requires a sharp eye. A simple and easy favorite is taking turns to spot license plates from different states, and then list a fact about that state. Not only is this great for most ages, but it’s also an entertaining learning experience.
4 Introduce Podcasts Or Audiobooks
If your kids love watching shows or reading e-books, look into podcasts or audiobooks that can be played for the whole family instead. Your children will love hearing exciting stories, fun facts, or their favorite books being read out loud. It’s a great physical and mental relaxer and prevents eye strain as well.
If your car is compatible with Apple Carplay, then look for podcast titles such as Ear Snacks, Brains On!, or Story Time. All of these are highly rated shows that will provide both entertainment and learning opportunities for the whole family. You could also just play them out loud from your phone if your car isn’t equipped with the necessary tech.
3 “Earn” Device Time
An important idea for kids to understand is that device time is a privilege, not a right. Enforce rules and allow your children the opportunity to earn their device time through good behavior during the other parts of the ride. Doing so will not only teach your kids about responsible behaviors but will also provide you with some peace and quiet during their break times.
You can also keep a point system running with bad behavior taking away portions of their screen time to further encourage good deeds and reduce eye strain. Although your kids may not like this rule, it’s a necessary and successful component in showing them the world outside of their iPad.
2 Have A Talk With Your Kids About Technology
If your kids are older, try simply talking to them about why you’re limiting their technology. By doing so, you’re showing them that the reasons behind your actions are reasonable, and this will allow them to trust you more and be more compliant about screen time limitations.
Sit them down, and tell them the cons of excessive screen use. Explain that you’re simply looking out for their health and that you’re willing to hear their side of the story. Together, you can learn more about each other’s feelings as well as find out about possible alternatives that your kids would like to have instead of devices on a road trip.
1 Start Conversation Topics
Last but not least, it’s handy to keep a deck of conversation starters as yet another activity to turn your kids away from the screen. With this one in particular, it’s easy to get to know your kids, their friends, and their school life in more detail. By steering everyone’s attention away from their devices, you’ll be improving family bonding and encouraging more social interaction as a whole. There’s nothing better than talking and laughing as a happy family, and it’ll be a great way for the driver to stay awake on long drives as well. There’s only wins from this easy activity!