The Only Thing My Kids Want to Do Is Watch TV and Play Video Games: How Can I Change This Behavior?

Like us adults, kids love their screens. And once they get hooked on the TV — which seems to happen at birth these days! — it can be hard to get them to do anything other than park on the couch and watch Paw Patrol. And the same, of course, goes for video games.

A mom wrote in, asking for advice on how to get her children interested in anything other than watching TV or playing games. She asked for specific suggestions on family activities that would be fun for the kids… fun enough to stop them from missing the ol’ idiot box/X Box. Writer and mom-of-two Samantha Cooper weighs in with some advice on the topic.

the only thing my kids want to do is watch tv and play video games: how can i change this behavior?

A Mamas Uncut fan asks:

“All my kids (6,9,12) want to do is watch tv and play video games. I know I am just letting it happen, but now I realize I need to make a family change. What advice can you give to make us more active? What activities can we do as a family that they would actually want to do?”

– Mamas Uncut Community Member

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Advice from Samantha Cooper

the only thing my kids want to do is watch tv and play video games: how can i change this behavior?

The struggle is real with families these days and screen time, be it television, video games, or tablets. We have set some very strict guidelines for screen time: 1 hour total per day on school days and a bit more on the weekends, unless we have family activities or other commitments planned. We believe that family comes first over everything else, and we make that a very big point in our home. 

As far as family activities, we do game nights with traditional board games and snacks. We also do movie nights with a subscription service or movie rental. With both of those, we incorporate popcorn, a movie theater size box of candy of their choice, and drinks that we normally wouldn’t consume.

We also take opportunities when the weather is nice to find local state parks and hiking trails. A backpack lunch and a nice trail can occupy an entire afternoon in the blink of an eye. We have found ourselves putting 5 miles or more down before we realize we should head back. This not only eliminates screen time, but also gets everyone out and about in the fresh air. We take our dog with us, and everyone gets a nice afternoon outside.

the only thing my kids want to do is watch tv and play video games: how can i change this behavior?

Speaking of outdoors, there are often exhibits in the aforementioned state parks and activities that are actually free or low-cost that an entire family can benefit from. Everyone usually learn a lot of fun things. 

Opportunities are endless these days, but with the screens it often seems that we can be strangled away from the real world. It takes true effort to unplug, and as a parent sometimes we have to unplug to show our kids that it can be done.

[Images via Envato Elements.]

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