How to reduce kids’ screen time with 50 boredom busting ideas

Do you worry about how much screen time your child has? I know that I’m guilty of using my phone too much and I worry about the impact that screen time has on my children. Don’t worry, this blog post isn’t going to preach about cutting technology out of your life completely. We live in a digital world and whether we like it or not, there’s a need for children to be media literate. So here’s what I found out, with some ideas to help you find a balance.

What are the effects of too much screen time?

Professional opinions vary and there are no official guidelines on screen time in the UK. However, studies show that screen time can have negative effects on:

  • Brain development
  • Language development, due to reduced parent/child interaction
  • Physical development as it can act as a replacement to outdoor activities
  • Social/emotional development
  • Sleep
  • Attention span

How much is too much screen time?

It can be difficult to get the right balance between raising media literate children without stepping over the line into overuse in a world where technology is so prevalent.

The advice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is that children should have two-hour limits on the time spent in front of screens, or TV-free days.

Too much screen time for children isn’t life-threatening, and parenting is full of all sorts of trade-offs; for your family, more rather than less digital media might be worth it. But the effects of digital media-watching can add up over years and turn into bad habits and behaviours that self-perpetuate beyond what parents can control. That doesn’t mean this generation of children are doomed — it just means parents need to learn how to make screen time work for children, rather than against them. – The Swaddle, The actual effects of screen time on kids development

Common sense media a non profit organisation aims to help kids thrive in a world of media and technology. They advise setting a family schedule with weekly screen time limits. They also suggest that you agree guidelines about the types of activity children can do, or what types of programmes they can watch.

How can I reduce my child’s screen time?

  • With BT Parental Controls you can set ‘homework time’ to reduce website access at set times
  • The Forest app lets you grow a beautiful forest if you keep your phone use within set limits. I’ve downloaded it to see if I can reduce the amount I use my phone!
  • You could agree that the whole family unplugs together, with screen free areas such as bedrooms and the dinner table
  • Agree appropriate timescales that they can use their device and then set a good example

How can I make the screen time that my child has more productive?

You can help to make the screen time your child has more productive by using screens as a learning tool.

  • If there’s a film that your child wants to watch which is based on a book, get them to read the book too. Then you can discuss how the book and the film differ.
  • If your child likes a particular programme find activities which they can do which link to the programme. E.g. a trip to a farm after watching a wildlife show, making crafts featured in a craft programme, a trip to a science museum etc.
  • Discuss your opinions about programmes or films you watch together. Talk about real life examples.

What are some alternatives to screen time?

Although we all know that screen time isn’t great for our children it ends up being the easy option when we’re under pressure. It can be a challenge to think of things that the kids can do when they tell you they’re bored and you’ve got work to do and a house to run. So it’s good to have a list of ideas which you can refer to.

Screen time can be a deprivational activity, in that it deprives us of time to do something more productive. Time spent in front of a screen is time NOT spent doing something that develops the brain, encourages imagination, builds relationships and creates a healthy, whole person. So try to think of boredom busting ideas which help to develop your child’s brain, language skills, imagination, physical development and social skills.

Get my 50 Boredom Busting Ideas for Screen Free Time

Do what works for you, stick a list up on a kitchen cupboard, or turn it into a boredom jar. Come up with your own ideas, get your children to help you, or print off my ideas. If the kids complain that they’re bored ask them to pick an idea from the list, or take an idea out of the boredom jar.

I hope you found my ideas useful. If you have any other ideas for how to manage screen time for children I’d love to hear them, so please comment below.

Squidgydoodle craft boxes are a great alternative to screen time. Have one to hand for rainy days, or those days where the kids are bored.

You might also be interested in:

Can creativity be taught

Benefits of Sensory Play

Benefits of Process Art

5 Process Art ideas to try at home



Mum Muddling Through
The ladybirds' adventures
Burnished Chaos


  • Sophie Posted April 26, 2018 6:11 pm

    Anything to get kids off their screens is a great thing. Thanks for sharing your ideas. #bloggerpinparty

    • Debbie Denyer Posted May 2, 2018 9:28 pm

      Hi Sophie, Thank you for commenting. It’s definitely a challenge to get kids off their screens. It gets so much harder as they become teenagers too.

  • MMT Posted April 26, 2018 8:35 pm

    You are so right – I know the one thing I need to do to encourage my kids to stop wanting their screens, is to put mine down! I have just downladed the app Forest after reading this – I need something like this in my life!
    Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub

    • Debbie Denyer Posted May 2, 2018 9:26 pm

      I know! I’m guilty of using my phone too much. I’ve not managed to grow many trees yet!

  • Claire @ The Ladybirds’ adventures Posted April 28, 2018 9:19 pm

    Great post. I love process art. I love your idea of getting kids to read the book as well as watch the film and discuss the differences. Thanks for joining #bloggerpinparty

    • Debbie Denyer Posted May 2, 2018 9:24 pm

      Thanks Claire, I usually find that I prefer the book when I watch a film adaptation of it! Film makers have a tough job to beat the creativity of the human imagination don’t they? Especially when each individual person sees things so differently in their mind when they read a book.

  • Cheryl @ Tea or Wine Posted May 2, 2018 12:37 pm

    Great advice, I agree it is all about getting the balance right. #CoolMumClub

    • Debbie Denyer Posted May 2, 2018 9:10 pm

      Thanks Cheryl, It’s not always easy to do is it? I’m definitely more conscious of the effects of screen time since writing the blog post though!

  • Malin – Sensational Learning with Penguin Posted May 2, 2018 8:30 pm

    I got the list and there are laods of fab ideas on there, many of which we do now and then. However there are very few things my son could do while I get something else done. That’s when screen time usually comes in, and is really tricky for us to replace (due to his disabilities, the things he can and/or will do without assistance and/or prompting are still very limited. xx #CoolMumClub

    • Debbie Denyer Posted May 2, 2018 9:09 pm

      Hi Malin, Thank you for commenting. I love the activities you share on your blog and how you build creativity using a more structured approach taking into account your son’s needs and preferences. I’d love to hear your ideas of things that children can do without assistance. x

  • Helena Posted May 9, 2018 10:50 am

    Another case of all things in moderation but if you can do without great #bloggerpinparty

  • Tracy Albiero Posted July 9, 2018 10:32 pm

    We are spending 2 weeks away from internet. I can’t wait for this screen free time! #familyfun

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 12, 2018 9:12 am

      Thanks Tracy, I hope you have a great time!

  • Bella and Dawn at Dear Mummy Blog Posted July 10, 2018 2:36 pm

    Great ideas! Its so important to limit screen time – especially now that the summer holidays are approaching #FamilyFunLinky

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 12, 2018 9:17 am

      Thank you, I hope you have a great summer.

  • Claire Rocks Posted July 10, 2018 4:23 pm

    great advice. very informative #FamilyFunLinky

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 12, 2018 9:17 am

      Thanks Claire, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • mummy here and there Posted July 10, 2018 5:56 pm

    Great post and things to consider, thanks for sharing X #familyfunlinky

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 12, 2018 9:18 am

      Thank you, I’m pleased you enjoyed it.

  • Karen twotinyhands Posted July 15, 2018 6:43 am

    I’m always on the mission to have tv free days. When we get them I always feel like I’ve accomplished something! My kid is always grumpy with too much TV. What a great idea o compile a list like this! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 16, 2018 8:11 am

      Thanks Karen, My kids are the same. They get really grumpy after too much TV too. I struggle to think of ideas when I need them, so the boredom jar really helps.

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