Read / Articles /

Tips to Help Your Kids Balance Screen Time

Relationships | Attie Murphy | 7 mins

Do you struggle to comprehend half the lingo your teenager uses? Is your 2-year-old already addicted to Netflix? Or maybe you've kept your kids screen-free so far, and you're considering how to move forward. Technology has changed a lot about society, but kids still have the same basic instincts. Children are curious, creative, and susceptible to influence. The internet makes it easier for kids to learn new skills, but it also poses many risks. Screen time affects physical and mental development, social skills, and safety. When kids depend on entertainment, it inhibits their creativity and critical thinking. The benefits come when parents use technology to facilitate learning and expression. The question is, how can parents help their kids have a healthy relationship with technology as it evolves? 

The online world is inevitable. Once your kids are school-aged, they will encounter the internet through their friends, even if you don't allow it at home. There are many helpful tools for monitoring and limiting your child's internet use, but that alone won't help your kids in the long run. The best thing you can do is teach your kids why, when, and how to say "No." A firm foundation of values will provide guidance and purpose to everything your children do. This article will break down a few key points to keep on hand. 

Start with your habits

We all know kids copy what's around them. Your relationship with Jesus will directly impact how your kids thrive. When God is leading you, it will lead them toward abundant life. What does that look like in relation to technology? It means putting God before your screen addiction, your anxieties about the news or your job, or any other distraction. Genuine connection with people will grow from your connection with God. The more you trust Him and spend time in Scripture, the more discernment you'll provide to your family. 

Here are some small habits that can make a big difference:

Treat the internet as a resource, not a lifestyle. Kids pick up on the little things. If you imply you can't live without Instagram, they will see it as central to enjoying life.

Be intentional about human connection. Remind yourself to meet your kids with eye contact and questions throughout the day. When you demonstrate attentiveness to and around them, they'll see the value of real-world conversations.

Set screen time. Instead of setting a couple of hours without screens, do it the other way around. Set your phone down with the ringer on high if you're afraid of missing important calls. When your kids see you sticking to your boundaries, they'll see more of the "why" behind the rules.

Embrace curiosity in your kids. If your kids tell you about something they saw online or ask why you have certain rules in place, lean into the conversation. Build trust by telling them the negatives and positives of technology in your life.

Cite sources. God's Word is the best source on how to live our lives because it comes from an all-knowing Creator who loves us. Start by showing your kids who Jesus is and why we can trust His truth. Then dive into the more specific issues. The Bible doesn't talk about the technology we have today, but it holds a lot of wisdom that applies. Here are a few verses you can explain to your kids in the context of technology: Matthew 6:24, Colossians 3:2, and Deuteronomy 6:5–7

Create alternatives

Humans are hardwired to find something to do, even if that something is watching TV. Kids, especially, need to stimulate their minds, and screens offer a solution for parents with hectic lives. Well, one way to make time for screen-free activities is to have a "go-to" list. The ideas below include a mixture for all ages, and you can customize a list for your child to choose from (Most of these require minimal mess or set up). 

Read real books!
Play board or memory games.
Attend low-cost workshops in the community.
Write letters/draw pictures for family members.
Church groups and camps for all ages.
Learn to cook simple meals.
Memorize Bible verses.
Learn calligraphy or photography.
Write a book.
Get innovative with cardboard boxes.
Start a business (Even if this just means running a "store" for siblings).
Create a family newsletter.
Build a simple birdhouse.
Start a prayer journal.
Write a play or act out Bible stories.
Serve in the community.
Raise money for a cause.
Rearrange their bedroom.
Design a new game.
Envision a fictional world in the backyard (This was how I occupied most of my childhood).
Learn a sport.
Put on a puppet show.
Train your pet(s) new tricks.
Make up a dance.
Collect leaves, stones etc.
Plant a mini garden.
Work out (This can start at any age!)
Finish a project with play-doh or pottery clay.
Go hiking or to a State or National Park.
Go on a family “sight seeing” walk in your area.
Put together a kids or teens worship group and practice singing together.

God loves you and your kids, and He wants you to enjoy your lives! He knows you won’t always know how to handle every new parenting situation, and following Him will help you have discernment. When the Bible doesn’t address a specific topic, you can seek wisdom directly from God and and get feedback from other parents. Feel free to reach out to us at Sun Valley and check out our exciting opportunities for kids.

Written By

Attie Murphy

An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.

Published on Apr 10, 2023