From The Blog

Are you ready for a Digital Detox?

Are you ready for a Digital Detox?

One of the hottest topics for parents today is children and their ‘screen time’.

When this topic comes up amongst fathers in our programs, everyone sits upright, gets very passionate and has plenty to say. It is at this point I start to think we could run entire programs on this topic alone.

Many feel like policemen in their own homes, marshalling kids around the important tasks all the while their kids have one eye on the screen and all energies are focused on when they can get back to it. This is certainly a very addictive image right? And frustrating for parents – you bet!

Universally we hear parents say things like ‘I walked into the room and they were all staring blankly at the screen and I had this overwhelming feeling that something is not right with this image’.

This feeling doesn’t lie. That sense of something being inherently wrong with this is quite true. All things in moderation and children really are not that good at moderating their screen time!

So what can be done? How can a parent turn this challenging situation into a win? Most parents would be happy if it wasn’t the biggest issue of conflict around the home. And to be fair most parents need to own if they secretly like how much peace and quiet they can have when the screens are all on.

I have to own here, that this has been the case in my home. We have spent years trying to work out how to do this so we don’t feel like failures as parents, or the constabulary in the lounge room.

Then we discovered something that took a little while to work, and was well worth it in the end.


Consider that their screen time and cash are the biggest currency with our kids today. Right? Can you already begin to feel that you are gaining some power back here? This is great leverage for parents.

You work for your currency right? That’s how the world is. You earn it. So wouldn’t it be a good life lesson for your kids to earn their currency?

Now not all kids are the same but most good kids will end up too attached to the stimulus of the screens. So I’m going to share what we’ve come up with….

No screens during the week! Nope, none… a weekly Digital-Detox! ‘Possible’ screen time is after school Friday, and after lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. We eat dinner together around the table; it’s one area we’ve been consistent over the years AND I know this is not the case in many homes.

Now here’s the rub, this screen time is earned through their personal care and preparation during the week… homework, bedroom, being ready for school on time. Screen time can be lost or reduced for any regular indiscretion in these areas PLUS for other personal behavioural problems like lying, cheating, stealing, or fighting. We don’t just use screens as the currency too, we use things they would like to do such as going to parties or the movies with friends; anything that is a privilege is to be earned.

If they are on ‘half rations’ consider starting with none of Friday night as it can be harder to reel in if they start the weekend with screens.

If they lose screen-time have a place they can put their laptop out of temptation. You may choose to include phones too. For desktops have them remove cable or unplug modem and place in same spot. For some kids having the devices there during the week keeps the temptation out of easy reach!

Now the jobs they do for the family are for the other currency – cash! Pocket money is for those contributions to the family and home. We try to keep their focus on contribution rather than the cash and this seems to work well enough. We want them to learn that contributing as a natural part of belonging to a family or group.

So be sure they understand this. Get them to tell you how the system works so you can then inspire them with words like; ‘so now I am no longer in charge of your screen time. You and your behaviour will determine how much time you have with your X-Box (insert device of pleasure)’.

Now the truth is that there will still be times you will need to remind them of what’s happened during the week and even when our kids have had a good week we will still chase them outside at 4pm on the weekends so they get a run around or swim before dinner.

Simple right! Ok, so now you are going to have to be aligned as parents and move forward united. If your kids are used to having full rein with screens you will get some push-back for sure. But it won’t take as long as you might think if you stand strong together. Do this lovingly and with conviction. You may have to have options for their evenings during the week and you might find they get more sleep, read more books, play more games and generally use their wonderful imaginations.

Go easy on yourself if it gets a bit tough, remind yourself of the big picture here.

Consider also screen free days on holidays and weekends. Go the weekend Digital-Detox, plan some fun activities and just see what happens.

Do the parents of your son’s friends feel the same? Share the load and organise things for the group of teens to do and take turns in organising something so you are not exhausting yourself keeping them stimulated!


If you don’t know his or her friends parents we suggest you do, this is a valuable resource as they get older. Get to know them and you build a network – a village around your sons. You don’t have to be best of friends AND you might just find that you do make some great friends. When events like schoolies week come along you will have a strong security net… but that’s another article to come!

Here’s a link to a great story, a little radical but hopefully you will get the message. Susan Maushart did the full Digital-Detox with her kids. Well worth your time.

Enjoy the cleanse!… and as is sometimes said, you will go through a ‘healing crisis’ first! Stick to it, you know it’s worth it. Can you see the day your kids will thank you for it down the track?… and you can just be you instead of ‘the law’ in your own home.

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  1. Tonie Chounlapane |

    Hello There. That is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

  2. admin |

    Hello Agatha, Thanks again for your inquiry re: RSS feeds on our website. What browser are you using? We have been advised that there is additional Google Chrome program we need. Keen to hear from you which browser you are using, and even if that is relevant. Many thanks for your reply in advance. Cheers, Stephen

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RAISING TEENAGE BOYS will reveal to you a proven man-making code for raising happy and healthy young men. Many parents butt their heads against the wall using tired old methods....methods that might have worked for our parents, or for when our kids were young......methods that consistently make things worse when our boys reach their teenage years.
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