Digital Detox for Kids and Teens

in Digital Detox, Simple Living - 7 min read

Does digital detoxing sound boring, uneventful and most importantly, unentertaining? The truth is, it’s not! Maybe you’re just afraid to let go…

How much time do you, dear parent, spend browsing social media every day? And how many hours do your kids spend on their phone, tablet, or nowadays, Apple Vision Pro? But it’s not enough to tell them to put their device down and read a book. And here comes a real parent-classic, take a walk outside.

You need to show your kids a good example.

Did you know that half of the adult American population reads no more then 1-5 books a year, and the other half reads none at all? Children on average read even less, unless it is an assignment for school.

But it’s not just reading that people neglect to do. Getting outside & doing something together with your kids, like going swimming or working on a family project, like a flower garden, for example, is a great way to digital detox. However, humanity doesn’t find the time often enough to push the pause button for awhile and just enjoy life.

Benefits of digital detoxing for kids & everyone else.

Studies have shown that people who shorten their time on their devices are more relaxed, less stressed, healthier & also a lot happier. Blue light, especially before bed, is proven to cause difficulty falling asleep. This can lead to feeling unrested in the morning, potentially waking up in a bad mood, and even sporting a shortened attention span throughout the day.

This doesn’t mean a movie night every now and then will hurt you, but if you or your kids spend the night online, it will interrupt your sleep in the long run. It’s wise advice to turn off all devices at least an hour before you get in bed. 2 hours if you can manage it.

It’s important to get some deep sleep in every night, especially for kids and teenagers. At night, you are not only relaxing your eyes, but regenerating the cells in your body. Plus, deep relaxation strengthens your immune system and these days it is more important than ever to be resilient to anything that might come your way.

Digital detoxing is also important because it gets you thinking.

Thinking about your future plans, looking back on old memories and giving you energy to create new ones every single day!

It gives your kids (and you) time to draw, journal or write. Give each other ideas for writing a story – who knows, maybe one day it will be published!

How to get started with a digital detox for kids

Pulling the device out of your child’s hands may work in the moment, but it probably won’t make them want to do it again in the future.

Ordering them to do something else will most likely not help either. However enticing it might be to throw their phone out the window, that’ll likely cause more problems, but I know it’s crossed your mind at least once!

If you really want to dive into a non-tech day (that’s 24 hours with no internet), best of luck to you.

With kids and teens, it’s better to take smaller steps and reduce the number of overall hours online. If you want to go for zero, make sure everybody is on board and knows about it ahead of time.

Make a game of digital detoxing! It has to be entertaining.

Make it fun to put down their tablet, laptop, or to turn the television off by giving them something to do that’s more interesting then a video game. There are so many things that are enjoyable to do offline. Start by doing something without your phone, and you will notice that in time they start doing the same!

For smaller children, you can try, when applicable, to give them more of your attention. Kids just want to be noticed, appreciated and loved. Read them stories and play games with them outside. If they like to draw, give them a notebook and some pencils – it’s surprising how much kids enjoy, at any age, to just sit down outdoors and draw what they see.

For older kids, it often works to set a challenge for them, making it interesting to spend time away from their device. For example, having them practice a skill, learn something new, read a book they like or have a pen pal rather than a chat buddy. This is not only enjoyable, it also helps your kid to practice and get better at writing by hand. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like getting stuff in the mail?!

If you have a teenager, you can kick off with an offline hobby, like gardening, painting, writing, or whatever else they might have an affinity for. Have them try different things. They are bound to find something they enjoy, or maybe even love doing! Boundaries will help, but they will only work for awhile, and you should be helping them start long-lasting hobbies that they might even keep on doing when they’ve grown up.

Digital detoxing for kids in every age group

Every age group has its own needs and desires, conscious and subconscious thoughts and habits. Here are a few things you, dear parent, will want to try in order to have a successful digital detox for kids.

Ages 0 to 5

However tempting it may be to distract your little one while shopping or having an important call, minimize their screen time to irregular and short sessions that they do not get used to. You might even notice that when they get older they don’t want to look at your phone too much, instead relishing the joys of experiencing nature; the sounds of birds, how different animals look and sound, all the way to how the grass feels under their feet. Next to having them play on their own, spend as much time with them as you possibly can.

Ages 6 to 10

Kids may get a bit harder to deal with at this age, but that’s totally normal. Activities, activities, activities! I.e. making clay sculptures, having picnics, helping them do crafts with their hands and solving quizzes and riddles. Plus, when applicable, helping them practice reading and writing. Strive for minimal time online. Instead of having them watch something before going to sleep, reading them a bedtime story or making up your own is a great idea for some evening digital detoxing.

Ages 11 to 14

For this age group, patience is key. For everybody. When setting boundaries, make them flexible for your kid’s needs. Help them find something fun to do offline. And who knows, it might be as simple as journaling, reading or drawing!

Stargazing, swimming and hiking are also wonderful opportunities for kids to enjoy time without the presence of devices. Teenagers often feel misunderstood or unheard – and it is possible that they feel like their device listens to them and understands them, even if that is not necessarily true. Understanding your child is the first step to getting them – and you – offline and on-life more often. One thing you can do for that, is learn some modern phrases that your kid of kids might be using. So here, dear parent, are some words you’ll want to know.

TBH means to be honest, IDKIDC means I don’t know I don’t care and Sesh translates to session. And don’t worry, you don’t have to use these words, but knowing their meanings is probably a good idea.

Also, teenagers like to do important things, so if you have an offline family project in mind, involving them is a good idea to make them feel valued and loved.

Ages 15 and up

By their late teens, some kids might even be getting bored of their device, longing for in-person conversation and simply tired of endlessly scrolling.

However others may be planning to have a career online, which is great. At this age, though, more then ever, digital detoxing for kids and teens is crucial.

You can have your child help out in canning, gardening and, when applicable, working by hand. Help each other find the time to take a day off the internet here and there! Taking your kid’s phone or laptop away from them won’t get you too far in the future. Even if it does have the instant effect of not being online, it will result in a disgruntled teenager. And nobody wants that! Assisting your children in finding things they love doing, however, is a great way to get not only them, but you digital detoxing! Going for a hike is also a wonderful plan for a day without the constant presence of technology. Camping. Going to a gem shop. Visiting a bookstore or library or museum.

There are countless ways to digital detox out there!

I hope digital detoxing doesn’t sound so unfathomably daunting anymore, because in truth, it isn’t. Take baby steps. Start by ending the day with reading or having a campfire instead of watching the news. Spend a few more hours every day living life, and encourage your kids to do the same! Even though this article was geared towards getting kids off their devices a little more often, I’m sure it will get you, dear parent, to put down your phone, too.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and digital detox!

Csermely Szilvia

Hi, my name is Csermely and I'm thrilled you found me on ForestCreekMeadows. Reading & writing has always been a huge part of my life, from the first book I read to myself, through poems and stories I have written, all the way to the book I'm writing now. I love to draw and paint, and have been doing so since I could sit. I'm a young teenager now, and as I age I continue to create each and every day. I am the co-creator of Earth Gratitude Studio - where you can find our digital prints on Etsy.

All posts