5 Ways To Unplug Your Child From The Screens

How does one unplug their child from screens? Five ways to unplug your child from screens

How does one unplug their child from screens? 

Unplugging your child from screens can be done with one's initiate and using some of the ideas from the five steps. 

Unplugging a child from screens has many benefits; your child will sleep better, problem solves, use their imagination, and much more.

Remember back in the day when one was called to dinner by their mother calling outdoors to her children playing? 

Or drinking from a hose? 

The many adventures of endless mud pies, bike rides, playing at the park? 

Today this is hard for a child to imagine because of all of the availability of having a TV, computer, laptop, tablets, phones are readily there. 

The tired or busy parent diverting the restless child to some screen for entertainment and a moment of peace. 

The child only knows what one is taught or sees around them. 

They go to school and are taught how to work on computers. 

They go home and see their parents on the phone or on the computer, maybe even watching TV or playing a video game and the child then believes "this is the life".

COVID came along and took away what little joy of venturing out to the parks had left. 

The screens became, even more, the way to entertain the child, to babysit the child, to bring "social engagements" to the child, and to connect them with schooling causing an even bigger pandemic of plugged-in children, teens, and adults.

The pandemic of a plugged-in child has been on the uprise creating even more havoc of unengaged and obese children, children with anxiety, children with sleep problems, children who do not want to go outside or do anything with their friends; children who are argumentative; and children who do not hold very strong executive functioning. 

The number of children turning to screens is rising and so the number of frustrated parents is growing as well. 

So how does one unplug their child and help them to see the joys around them? 

Here are five ways to help your child unplug and turn to enjoying adventure and creativity.

The adventures that await a child outdoors are endless and the summon still awaits the eager child who listens.

The creativity that is waiting to burst out of a child can happen inside as well as outdoors. 

Children Therapists in Colorado

Melissa Peterson, LPC

Melissa Peterson, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Hailey Gloden, MA, LPC, NCC

Hailey Gloden, MA, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342

Step One: Set Time Limits

The most important step is to limit screen time. 

Children should not have more than an hour a day of screen time whether it is playing video games, watching a show, doing something on the computer, social media, playing, watching, or talking on the phone (facetime, duo, skype, and so on), and so on. 

I am sure some of you are wincing or saying, are you crazy?! 

Yet, the goal is to help your child/ren to be able to find their adventurous and creative side within them.

Many children need to do some schoolwork on the tablets which are provided by the schools. 

Caregivers should be monitoring their children while doing schoolwork on a screen to ensure they are focused on only the task of school and then they need to get off the screen when finished.

Caregivers you also need to try and be an example of how to unplug as well. 

If your work is remote and calls you to have to be on a screen, try to find times this can be done when your child is not present. 

This should be the same as talking on the phone, watching TV, playing video games, and so on. 

Try to limit all screen time when the children are present. 

Caregivers rest assured, it gets easier with practice.

Step Two: The Great Outdoors

Going outside has great benefits of soaking in nature's best and free vitamin D3. 

"When one has enough vitamin D3 in their system it helps one to have healthy bones and teeth; it assists one's immune, brain, and nervous system; it helps one prevent diabetes by keeping insulin levels balanced; keeps lungs and cardiovascular systems fit; and can help keep cancer genes from emerging".

Going outside can help keep the blues/sadness/depression at bay by the natural lighting it provides. 

The number of activities that one can do is endless, even if one does not live in a house. Invite friends to join if they can.

Here are some ideas of things that can be done outdoors:

  • Draw with chalk; *find the "jewel" rocks (rocks the kids think are beautiful or like a jewel)
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt (kind of like "I spy" yet have a list of things one could try to find ready)
  • Do leaf, tree, ground rubbings (crayons and paper are required for this. Paper goes on/over the item and then the crayon is used on its long side to rub the imprint onto the paper) 
  • Make bird feeders out of pinecones and hang them in the trees (collect pinecones, string or twine, peanut butter, and birdseed. Spread peanut butter on the pinecones and roll the pinecone in birdseed. Attach some type of string to the pinecone so they could hang from the trees, porch, fence)
  • Find objects/shapes in the clouds
  • Play tag, 
  • Make mudpies
  • Make an outdoor obstacle course with objects around you
  • Go to a nearby park
  • Play catch
  • Blow bubbles

The possibilities are endless.

Step Three: The Great Indoors

There are times when going outside is not an option because of inclement weather, sick children, poor air quality, time, and the list could go on. If this is the case… time to turn to the great indoors.

Playing inside is a great way to help your child to unplug and start to use skills of problem-solving, developing fine motor skills, time management, self-soothing, develops concentration skills, entertaining oneself, and best of all… it develops one's imagination! Invite friends to come to play, if one is able to do so.

Here are some ideas for activities indoors:

  • Make healthy snacks with the kids (Ants on a Log: celery, peanut butter, raisins. Spread peanut butter on cleaned and cut celery and then add raisins on the peanut butter. Apples with peanut butter. Crackers, cheese, and meat)
  • Make no-bake cookies
  • Do puzzles together, make your own puzzle together
  • Play board or card games
  • Make your own board game, make an indoor obstacle course
  • Play balloon volleyball
  • Play with cornstarch mixed with water (feel how the cornstarch rolls into a ball and then goes into a "liquid" when one stops rolling)
  • Have a pillow fight (aim for below the neck)
  • Play hide-n-seek
  • Listen to audiobooks
  • Have your own dance party (play music and dance)
  • Read a good book
  • Put on a play

Step Four: Get Your Creativity On

Doing arts and crafts helps a child to open up their world of imagination while practicing skills they need for everyday functioning (fine motor, eye-hand coordination, sequencing, thinking outside the box, and so on).

Here are some creative ideas:

Big Box fun

Get boxes, water paints, crayons, markers, and whatever else you choose, and have the kids turn the boxes into something (cars, forts, castles, boats, the possibilities are endless). The magic of a box is amazing and can bring hours of joy to a kid.

Food Container fun

Keep cereal boxes, milk cartons, egg containers, peanut butter containers, and so on and have the kids create a store for them to play store.

The above containers can even turn into storage containers (cereal boxes can hold papers, magazines, and mail. Milk cartons can be planters, or watering cans, condensed frozen juice containers can be pencil and pen holders)

  • A village (can be made by using construction paper, paint, scissors, and anything else that can help turn the items into a town)
  • A game (cereal boxes can be turned into a board game, plastic liter bottles or plastic water bottles can be turned into bowling pins)
  • Paint pictures or items (rocks, containers, shirts bought from Dollar Tree)
  • Make your own playdough to play with and/or to make into a gift (shape it, dry it out, paint it)
  • Buy inexpensive art supplies from the Dollar Tree (popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, so on) Create to your heart's desire
  • Make your own greeting cards and deliver or mail them to people
  • Make puppets and put on a puppet show
  • Cut old magazines up and create a collage

Step Five: Fun On the Run

As caregivers there comes the time when one must run errands or go to the grocery store. 

This can become quite the challenge when bringing unwilling and unplugged children.

This time can be turned into a fun time by using these tips. 

First off, make sure you are not running errands when the child normally sleeps, eats, or is in a grumpy mood.

This can make the errands daunting and complicated. 

Bring a water bottle and a small Ziplock bag of snacks, if you are going to be gone longer than an hour.

Have a reward for good behavior ready for the child. 

Rewards can consist of extra bath time, extra (short) book read before bed, a small, sweet treat, ride on the mechanical horse at the store, and the list can go on. 

Be creative, it does not have too big or expensive.

Ideas when grocery shopping

  • Have coupons for the child to hold and look for the item, *play "I spy" yet use shapes, colors, and specific items (I spy something that is a dairy product, I spy something that is a slice of meat, cereal, and so on)
  • Have the child help you find the product you are looking for
  • Have the child help count the number of items you get as you get them
  • Have your child count as high as they can or sing the alphabet song
  • Have your child help "hold items" (non-breakable items), have your child hold onto fake money and pretend to pay for each item

When going to and from places (car time)

Have your child find and count as many white, blue, red, black, orange and so on cars they can find

Sing child songs with them, play who can find these items (street sign, tree, mailbox, truck, train, baby, dog, and so on)

  • The alphabet game (if the child can recognize all of their letters in the alphabet) by finding all the letters in the alphabet in order, on signs, license plates, buildings
  • What can you hear (listen and see how many things you can hear and whoever has heard the most things, wins)

Other errands

  • Have the child check the completed errands off the list. Nonreaders can cross off pictures

At restaurants

  • Play hid the straw wrapper (on the table)
  • I spy
  • Count how many pictures are in the restaurant, how many people are wearing glasses, how many with beards, and so on. 
  • Playmaking goals with straw wrappers by flicking them with your pointer finger
  • See who could hold an ice cube in their mouth the longest (not for three and under)


Unplugging your child from screen time can be very difficult at first, yet the rewards of unplugging your child are bountiful with a little "stick to it" initiative

The caregivers must be willing to work with the child/ren in getting in the habit of playing, exploring, creating, socializing, without a screen. 

Be sold on "selling" your child the activity if you do not act excited then the child will not be excited. 

The best reward is having children who are able to entertain themselves and building family memories.

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June 18th, 2024

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