The Aro Blog

Trying to Reduce Screen Time This Year? Here's How.

January 16, 2024
Diane Almanzor
Diane Almanzor
father and son sitting on couch scrolling on their phones

Seeing our kids captivated by screens for hours can really make us question the true cost of our digital-heavy lives. As parents, learning that the average screen time now hovers around 7 hours a day is a bit of a wake-up call. It gets us thinking about the real effects of screen time on our children, and perhaps more importantly, on our ability to be fully present with them.

The stakes are high. Research tells us that too much screen time can mess with kids' emotions, hurt their grades, and might even have long-term effects on their developing brains. We're talking about real impacts on their future potential.

So, it's no surprise that many parents are aiming to cut down on screen time. However, it has now become more than just setting limits but also regaining those precious moments that screens often steal from us. Here are some practical ways to take back our time and focus from the digital world, for the sake of our kids and our own well-being.

Set App Limits

Your phone can actually help you use it less. That's right! Most smartphones have tools that let you keep track of how much you use your apps. For example, iPhones have something called Screen Time, and Android phones have Digital Wellbeing. These tools let you set limits for how much you use certain apps every day.

Interestingly, a comprehensive study looked into how effective these features are in reducing mobile phone use and preventing what experts call 'maladaptive mobile phone use' (MMPU). The results? While research shows the most effective way to reduce screen time is to physically create distance from your phone, these app limiting features can be effective in cutting down phone usage.

So, how do you make this work for you? Start by keeping an eye on your app usage for a week. This will give you a clear picture of where your time is going. Once you've got that figured out, set some realistic goals for yourself. Maybe you want to spend 20 minutes less on social media each day. 

Use the built-in tools on your phone to put these limits in place. The key is to regularly check how you're doing and adjust your goals as needed. Remember, it's the small, consistent steps that lead to big changes over time.

Create Device-Free Zones

Creating device-free zones in your home can really change the game in how your family connects and unwinds. Think about it: your dining table becomes a hub for laughter and meaningful conversations, not just a spot to check emails or scroll through social feeds. And your bedrooms? They can turn into peaceful havens, perfect for unwinding and getting a good night's sleep.

Research backs this up big time. Keeping bedrooms free from tech is a thumbs-up for better sleep and mental health. And it's not just the bedrooms; studies also suggest that dining rooms should be all about enjoying meals and family time, not screens.

But how do you make this happen? Start by picking the right spots in your house, like the dining room and bedrooms. These are great places to begin. Next up, set up a spot outside these zones for phones and tablets – maybe a basket or a charging station. This helps keep the rule clear: no devices in the chill zones.

And here's the key part: lead by example. If the adults stick to these guidelines, the kids are more likely to follow suit. By doing this, you're not just cutting down on screen time; you're building a home where everyone can truly relax and connect.

Schedule Tech Breaks

Ever find yourself in the middle of a day, swamped with endless notifications and emails? It's a sign you might need a little breather. Research tells us that even short breaks from our screens can work wonders for reducing eye strain and mental fatigue.

Think of tech breaks as essential as your most important meetings. Carve out time for activities that don't involve screens - like taking a brisk walk, immersing yourself in a chapter of your favorite book, or solving a puzzle.  Maybe at 11 a.m., you step outside, feel the sun, and stretch your legs. Or, at 3 p.m., you lose yourself in a book for just 15 minutes. 

A great tip? Set alarms to remind you about these tech-free moments. Keep a handy list of fun, quick activities that you enjoy. Treat these breaks with the same commitment as your critical appointments. 

If you make this a daily habit, you'll soon notice a positive shift in your focus and overall well-being. 

Implement Reward Systems

Remember that amazing feeling of achievement you had recently? Let's use that same vibe to tackle something important: reducing screen time in a fun way. Introducing a rewards system can really transform the way we interact with our kids, making every moment count.

Start with simple, achievable goals. Think along the lines of, "Let's watch one hour less of TV tonight." When you hit that goal, celebrate with something special that doesn't involve screens. 

How about a picnic in the park, whipping up your family's favorite meal together, or maybe a fun board game night? These kinds of rewards do more than just motivate; they replace screen time with memorable, quality moments.

This approach cuts down on digital use and helps enrich our family life with experiences that bring us closer. It's a smart, fun way to build stronger connections while gently steering our families towards healthier habits.

Organize Social Screen Sabbaticals

Creating a 'digital detox' day for your family can also be a game-changer. Did you know that according to the National Recreation and Park Association, nearly half of U.S. adults are all for taking a break from our gadgets to enjoy some outdoor fun? 

Let's make it happen! Pick a day that suits everyone, circle it on your family calendar, and get ready to unplug. Stack up some board games, gather your art supplies, or jot down a few outdoor adventures. The key is to have options everyone will love.

Communication is vital, so make sure everyone's in the loop about why this day is special. And here's the best part: at the end of the day, chat about what you loved the most and start planning your next digital-free day. This  proactive approach allows quality time and experiences that bring a family closer. 

Conclusion: A Brighter, Screen-Less Future

Tackling screen time is a bit like going on an adventure – it's ongoing, full of learning curves, and definitely rewarding. Think of it as crafting a happier, more united family space. The trick is to set clear, achievable goals, carve out no-screen zones, and jump into this journey together.

As you start putting these ideas into action, you'll notice something pretty cool. It does not just cut down screen time but also ramp-up the fun and connection you share as a family. Expect more laughs, deeper conversations, and a treasure trove of memories.

And why not make this journey a tad easier? Tools like Aro are here to lend a hand in managing your family's screen habits. It is a friendly guide in your goal for a more focused, interactive family life. Start building a more engaged and present family environment with Aro, and watch the magic unfold in your family's everyday moments.

Diane Almanzor
Aro app leaning against the Aro Home device
A close-up, overhead shot of the Aro showing a phone charging in one of the slots.
A family is gathered in the living room. Teenage kids run around while the parents relax on the sofa.

Life happens off your phone

Make phone-free time a part of your daily routine.