Breaking The Screen Addiction

  • April 4, 2017

I’ve let Little H use a tablet and my smartphone from a fairly young age, and have always thought it’s a good thing learning to use technology so young. One of my first blog posts was Why I don’t feel guilty about my child using smartphones and tablets and I really didn’t feel bad about it.

I still don’t feel guilty about it, but lately she’s getting a bit addicted to her tablet and we need to make an effort to get her away from it. It’s the first thing she grabs in the morning, and as soon as she walks through the door after school. I have to prise it out of her little mitts so she doesn’t use it 24/7.

As it’s the start of the month I thought that I’d see how we get on with breaking the screen addiction by the end of April! Am I crazy?!

I still think some screen time is good, Little H plays some educational games and the other day I found her watching a science video. I’d just like her to play with her toys more, watch less YouTube, and not go to her tablet the second she walks through the door.

Anyway, here’s the plan to break the screen addiction…

Breaking The Screen Addiction | Digital Motherhood

Set Time Limits

Little H got a kids’ Fire tablet for Christmas which we wanted because it has a lot of parental controls on it compared to the standard tablets. I’ve set a limit of 2 hours per day and it can only be used between 6am -7pm. The morning time limit was set a while ago to stop her getting up at 5am and asking to use it!

I’m going to have to be strict about the time limits and not just give in and extend them when she runs out of time. She uses it for an hour in the morning while we get ready for work, so that leaves her with an hour to use it after school or before bed. I think it’s going to take a while for her to understand that once the time is up then that’s it until tomorrow!

Plan other activities

It’s easy for me to let her use her tablet for a while after school as it allows me to get jobs done such as housework. I’m at work all day until I collect her from school so there’s not much time to get everything done. Housework and other chores might have to be neglected for a while so I can encourage Little H to do other activities. If it’s nice after school we go to the park anyway, it’s just the cold, rainy days that we need to find things to do. She has gymnastics one night, after school club another night, and swimming another night. So it’s actually only 2 days a week that we have to worry about.

I’m going to be organised and think of some ideas in advance. So far I’m thinking of crafts, playdoh, jigsaw puzzles, lego, colouring – all things I know she will sit and do for a while even if I don’t really like them all!

Reward Charts

I know not everyone agrees with reward charts but they have always worked for us in the past. I might re-introduce a reward chart so that Little H only gets to use her tablet as a reward for good behaviour.

She’s not a naughty kid, but it’s a struggle to get her to listen to instructions like most kids her age. It’s also difficult to get her to eat her dinner and get dressed by herself. I read a suggestion of giving the child “3 strikes” each day – they get a strike if they don’t do something, 3 strikes and no screen time.

I’m not sure I’ll go with this right away, but will keep it as an idea in case the other options don’t work!


I’ll update you at the end of the month to let you know how it’s gone – and if I have any hair left!

Have you got little technology addicts in your house? If so, how to do you deal with it?



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  • Topfivemum

    Oh I feel for you. My daughter was 18 months old when I had my son and I relied on the iPad to get me through feeding the baby and to try and get her to eat lunch. It quickly turned into a ‘thing’ and it started to feel like an addiction. I just did an outright ban and said no screens during the day and only 15 minutes with a cuddle with daddy once he gets in at night. It was hard for a few days but it worked. Maybe because she was still young.

    I find I have to keep her occupied though. Helps me with preparing cooking now (she’s 2.5), washing up and cleaning floors. Simple things but they love it. The other day o got a toothbrush, put her at the kitchen sink and she washed her toy dinosaurs for 45 minutes! Give it a go, I find it helps keep them occupied while I’m cooking as it feels like we’re in the kitchen working together. Good luck!

  • Nat

    It’s fascinating to read another mum’s experiences so thanks for sharing! How old is your daughter? My 4 year old son has recently got very into the iPad and seems to ask for it all the time! As you say it is so useful to keep them entertained while you do essential jobs which are otherwise tough to do! I also find it helps keep him occupied so I can read or do an activity with one of my other children (since there are 3 of them and they are all at success different levels). A mum friend mentioned she is using a points system with her kids which sounds like it is working well (not for electronics specifically, just for improving behaviour). I’ll let you know if I find out more!
    Does your daughter like puzzles? Or loom bands?

    • Sarah | Digital Motherhood

      My daughter is almost 6, so hard to trick! Haha She does like puzzles, haven’t tried loom bands but I think she’d like those. I think the points system sounds a good idea! X

  • Nat

    Forgot to add I popped by from #dreamteam ?

  • Jade @ Captured By Jade

    This is a habit that can be hard for adults to break, let alone children who don’t fully understand why the habit needs to be broken. It sounds like you have some solid plans in place! We actually lessened our son’s screen time at the start of this year – he now only uses digital devices on the weekend and a Friday after preschool if he is good – and it has massively impacted us all in so many positive ways. Re: keeping her occupied without much parental supervision (when cooking + housework etc) I find building blocks work the best, especially if you have the ones where there is a picture to follow and they have to find the pieces to make it.

    Good luck! #TwinklyTuesday

    • Sarah | Digital Motherhood

      Well done for managing to break the habit! I’m not sure I’ll be able to bring the use down quite that much but we will try for as little as possible. X

  • Rebecca | AAUBlog

    it is hard isn’t is, as its so easy to just give it to them for a minutes peace. Time limits is what we do and they also get the time taken away for naughty behaviour x

  • Sonia Cave

    Good luck, and I hope it goes ok. I am not brave enough to even give them screen time. As we don’t own an ipad it isn’t hard to avoid, but I know I’d struggle with no.3 as he can’t take it or leave it. I know they use technology in nursery/school places so I’m not that worried about their skills. They are good at playing though now after a lot (I mean a lot) of encouragement in the past, but I still find it hard to achieve anything, as with three there is always someone who needs you!

  • The Tale of Mummyhood

    I agree that it’s good for our little ones to learn to use technology but like you say sometimes it can get a little too much. Good luck with the rest of April, I’m sure you’ll settle into a new routine with it really quickly! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza, hope to see you again next week xx

  • Lisa (mummascribbles)

    Zach has definitely become a bit attached to the ipad. I mean, its not all the time but he would happily sit there all day and watch youtube if we let him! I have also started to try and get him to use it a bit less so interested to read this 🙂 Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  • Aleena

    It’s funny, we were just talking today about trying to reduce Amelia’s Kindle addiction… We don’t let her use it all of the time, but if we have a couple of days in a row where she gets to use it for a couple of hours we notice how for a few days after that she will ask for it non-stop… We’ll definitely be stealing some of your ideas! #stayclassymama

  • Bridie By The Sea

    Oh this is something I think about all the time as I am almost definitely the worst example for the kids. I am on my phone constantly so can’t exactly lay down the law with my teenage stepson’s screen time! I am going to start putting some boundaries in place for us 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #dreamteam x

  • Pat - White Camellias

    I couldn’t agree more. My daughter in particular is addicted and I hate the way she is drawn to phones! Unlike you we don’t allow much screen time at all and that’s what’s really scary because even though she only gets to use my phone as a very rare exception she loves it and asks for it all the time! Thank you for sharing with #StayClassyMama


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