The National Day of Unplugging – How to get the kids to switch off without a meltdown

by Screen Time Team on 24/02/2017

The National Day of Unplugging is nearly upon us. For a full 24 hour period, running from sundown to sundown, people are switching off all of their devices, and potentially having, dare we say it, real life, face to face interactions with other humans.

For the Screen-Lover of today, the suggestion of having zero access to a smartphone or tablet for a full 24 hours can be a daunting prospect. For some it’s the thought of losing communication with friends on Snapchat or Whatsapp. For others, it’s not being able to play their favorite game. And then there are those for whom the very idea of being unable to share an image of their freshly sliced #avocado on Instagram, is the stuff of nightmares.

“People won’t know what I had for lunch”, they’ll say.

So asking the kids (and, let’s be honest, the parents) to switch off their devices for a whole day is a tall order for many. And of course will lead to the classic question: WHY?!

Well kids, here’s why!

Because parents everywhere have been told that screen time should be reduced for the sake of their child’s health. However, some new research released by the department of psychology at Stetson University in Florida, has found that kids can spend 6 hours per day staring at a screen without “even minor negative outcomes,” *

This is all very reassuring, but we at Screen Time Labs are big believers that, while there is an awful lot to love about smartphones and tablets, nothing boosts the endorphins like a day outdoors in the fresh air. (Check out our top tips on how to get your kids to agree to put down their devices and join you outside).

Convincing a child of this when they are heavily engrossed in a game of Minecraft could of course prove challenging.  Which is where our app can help. And here we have our top tips on how to switch off your kids devices without a meltdown:

Pause your child’s device from your own handset

Our app allows you to go all ‘He-man’ on your kids – you can have the power over their device. So if you like, you can ‘pause’ their smartphone or tablet simply by pressing a button on your own handset. To avoid winding them up too much though, we recommend you at least send them a 5 minute warning first. Because no one likes being rudely interrupted. We also recommend you do the following:

Set daily time limits for screen time

The key to stopping those ‘switch off’ rows is to ensure all parties  – parents and kids – are clear about the rules from the outset.

One way of doing this is to agree on a daily time limit. Inviting the kids to help with this decision not only gets you working together, it gives them, (particularly tweens/teens) a chance to take responsibility for their own behaviour. Our app has a useful feature that enables you to do just that using your phone. And if you’d like for you child to still be able to access some apps even when their time is up, you can use the settings to ensure some of their apps are blocked, and others aren’t.


Draw up a family screen time pact.

Reduce chance of meltdown by being fair. This is a simple contract between parent and child on the use of mobile devices. Edit and print this one to save time. Work together with the kids to decide upon the rules so they feel like they are getting a say.  It could include rules about how much screen time is allowed each day and when devices are and are not allowed to be used. Stick it to the fridge, this way it will stay present as a reminder to all. 

It’s up to you and your kids to decide the penalty for breaking the pact. But be warned, the contract is a two way street, what you ask your kids to do, you too need to adhere to 😉

To find out about all of the other cool features available and to download the Screen Time app, click here

And if you are joining in with The National Day of Unplugging on March 3rd-4th, good luck!

What will you do when you’re unplugged?? Let us know in the comments below!

Here’s what some of us at Screen Time do when offline…




Polly, Designer (and feline related venue supporter)





IMG_2718     Nick, Developer (Spot the dad with small kids)

IMG_2717    Nick, MD (and part-time lumberjack)

IMG_2715    Anna, Content Manager (Occasional over-sharer)




Jordan, Digital Marketer (cheating a little here with his offline suggestion)





Find out more about National Day of Unplugging click here.

*The lead author, Christopher J Ferguson, from the department of psychology at Stetson University in Florida

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