Winter scene with children sledding.

How to Avoid Excessive Screen Time When It’s Too Cold to Go Outside

by Screen Time Team on 10/01/2019
Teenager sitting on a couch with a tablet.

Make A Family Agreement

Parents lead by example. It’s hard to tell kids to stop playing video games all day when all you want to do is binge the latest Netflix series. So the first step to healthy screen use in the winter is to set a family agreement. Establish what times are off-limits to screens, how many hours a day you’ll use screens, and sort screens by use. For example, homework time, or pleasure time spent on an e-book reader, might not count against screen use in your household. Try this Screen Time Pact and stick it to your fridge!

Chores And Homework First

One useful method of keeping screen time down is to get all the work that needs to be done out of the way first. For example, you might set aside a block of time on Saturday as “chore time,” where the laundry gets done, the home is vacuumed, and other things you need to get done and might as well do since you’re indoors in the first place. You might even “pay” kids for chores in extra screen time. Every minute spent cleaning the basement means an extra minute of video games, for example. If the entire family pitches in, the work will be done more quickly and everybody’s happy.

The same is true of homework. In fact, making homework a family activity can not just help kids at school, but will improve their engagement and build in time for you to understand what they’re being taught.

Have Family Projects

Another approach is family projects. These can be anything from redoing the spare room into a family work space to a crafting project to create the Christmas cards for next year to cooking a family feast for dinner. As a general rule, choose something the entire family will enjoy and will get something out of and can contribute to, so everybody will be invested.

Winter scene with children sledding.

Have Options Beyond Screens

One of the dangers of screens is that they can become the only entertainment in a house. Be sure to have a house full of books, toys, board games, crafting materials, and other bits and bobs for kids to play with, interact with, and build with. If you don’t currently have a library card, bundle up the family and take a trip to your local library to get one and take advantage of it.

Plan Outside Adventures

Finally, if the weather is good enough, plan some outside adventures for your family. Whether it’s a sledding trip, exploring the woods in winter, or going to a museum or something else educational, planning a fun trip as a family gives kids something to look forward and offers an alternative to screens. You can also design a post-trip activity where kids can talk about what they’ve learned or research questions they’ve asked that you weren’t able to answer on the trip.

Screens don’t have to be your babysitter. Parental control apps for cell phones can be a strong ally during “snow day” season. Screen Time offers a comprehensive suite of parental controls across all devices that can help you keep your kids from vegging out too much when it’s cold and snowy. To learn more, try it for free.

Join the conversation