The coronavirus quickly led to quarantines, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing protocols. These rules and regulations already kept everyone apart throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
School and work also shifted to a remote setting in many areas. These changes only added to the number of reasons to remain cooped up on the homefront. Now, with the winter approaching and the number of COVID-19 cases rising, families have less reason than ever to leave their homes.
As the cold increases, chances are, you and your loved ones are continuing to spend all of your time indoors … in front of electronics. If that’s the case, here are a few suggestions to help you limit your screen time this winter.
1. Limit Devices
One of the simplest ways to reduce screen time is by limiting the screens themselves. Digital devices have a tendency to breed like rabbits. If you aren’t careful, you’ll find a cell phone in every pocket, a tablet in every backpack, and a television or monitor in each and every room of the house.
The first step in limiting screen time should be addressing the number of devices in your home. Sell, store, or otherwise dispose of electronics that aren’t being used often. Consider the utility of each device, as well. Do you have three tablets that all serve the same single purpose? If that’s the case, sell two of them on Craigslist.
Along with getting rid of things, you can also change the kind of devices that you’re purchasing. For instance, if you have a teenager in your home, you can get them a kids phone. A smartphone designed for younger individuals can restrict their access to things like the internet and social media. At the same time, it still enables them to have a phone of their own.
2. Set Up Screen-Free Zones
Along with reducing screens, you can also create geographic areas of your home that are screen-free. In other words, certain rooms and spaces can be dedicated to activities that don’t involve electronics.
One obvious screen-free candidate is your kitchen table. By restricting screens at the table, you enable your family to spend meals spent together without distractions.
Another good screen-free space is the bedroom. Sure, a child may need to attend online classes in their room. You might even have a home office setup in your sleeping quarters. Once bedtime rolls around, though, these areas should become screen-free zones. This can help your family reduce overall screen time and avoid too much blue light exposure right before bed.
3. Schedule Unplugging Times
So far, we’ve focused on the number of screens around your home. We also addressed the locations in which they’re used. Another way to limit screens is to address the amount of time that they’re in use.
You can do this by setting up times during the day devoted to “unplugging” from screens. This could be an hour or two after school or before bed. Having scheduled times to unplug from electronics is important. It helps both you and your loved ones maintain the ability to separate from your electronics on a regular basis.
4. Embrace Your Inner Hygge
Hygge is an untranslatable term that refers to a lifestyle near and dear to the Danish culture. The best translations for Hygge involve words like “comfort” and “cozy.” Hygge is a concept embodied through things like:
Friends and family
Notice that none of these require electronics. While it’s acceptable to include things like movies and smartphones, they aren’t required. Adding a splash of hygge into your lifestyle is a great way to detox from screens in a positive environment.
5. Replace Screens with Other Activities
As you work to weed screens out of your family’s life, it’s important that you don’t let them leave a vacuum behind. Consider activities that can take the place of your family’s screen time. Instead of movies and video games, look for electronics-less alternatives, such as:
Playing board games: Playing board games can make you smarter, boost confidence, and hone life skills. As a bonus, when played as a family, they can strengthen relationships, too.
Reading books: You can read a good book individually and as a family. In addition, you can even bend the unplugging rules a bit by using a kindle. This allows you to access a huge number of books online without leaving your home This also enables you to use screenless, eye-friendly E Ink to read them in a (mostly) unplugged scenario.
Exercise: From home gyms to walks to 7-minute workouts, there are plenty of ways to exercise on the homefront. You can even plan time to work out together as a family each day. This can help you all stay accountable for each others’ physical health during the cooped-up winter months.
Go outside: It may be winter, but you can still don some quality cold weather gear for a romp in the snow. Going outside gives you access to both exercise and fresh air, which are good for your health and productivity, respectively. In addition, the opportunity for your eyes to focus on things that are far away (rather than a close-up screen) can’t be missed.
There are many more options than this available. Use these four screen-free ideas to come up with your own list of familial and individual activities. Then visit that list on a regular basis to see what you can do during your time away from your electronics.
If you want to limit your family’s screen time this winter, be strategic about it. If you simply announce that your family is going to use screens less often, chances are you won’t see much in the way of results.
By embracing a strategic approach, you can reduce your family’s overdependence on electronics — even during the cold winter months ahead.