How to Get the Device Away from a Child

How to Get the Device Away from a Child

12 July 2022 • Words by Stefano Ceppi 2 mins

It can be difficult to separate a device from a child when the time comes to put it away. They may cry, argue, and even try to bribe you. Admittedly not all screen time is created equal, and active screen time may be conducive to developing social and cognitive skills, as reported in a 2021 study by Lawrence and Choe. However, it is essential to remember that too much time spent on devices may deprive our children of precious time spent enjoying the physical world.

Should you find yourself struggling with your child around this issue, do not worry. We have all been there.

Here are a few tips to help you get the device away from a child:

Explain why you are taking the device away

Be specific about your reasons and expectation of their time usage on and off-screen. Speak with a calm voice, even if you are frustrated.

Explain that you are taking the device away for a limited time

In our household, for example, the children get thirty minutes of screentime for one hour spent outside. Knowing that eventually they will have the tablet or phone back will help them develop a familiarity with delayed gratification and make the pause “digestible.”

Propose an enjoyable alternative activity

When you take the device away, offer the child something else to do, preferably involving you. This can help divert their attention from the device and increase quality time.

Be firm when taking the device away from a child

If you give in, they will continue to argue and cry. Remember, you are not negotiating. Also, the power struggle will shift once the routine is well established.

Handle the tantrum

It’s possible that taking away the device from your child will result in a tantrum. Check out our blog Useful Tools to Help Parents Deal with Tricky Moments with Kids for tips on how to manage tantrums effectively.

Put the device away

Once you have taken the device away from the child, put it in a safe place where they cannot reach it. This will help to prevent any temptation.

Be mindful of the example you’re setting

All the above tips will be more effective if you model the behavior you expect your children to exhibit.

We should acknowledge that expecting children to self-regulate their screen time is in most cases unrealistic. Setting a good example and implementing the above tips with patience, love, and empathy will help you and your children have a healthier relationship with devices. 

Lawrence, A., & Choe, D. E. (2021). Mobile media and young children’s cognitive skills: A review. Academic Pediatrics, 6, 996–1000.

Stefano Ceppi

Neurodivergent father of two, and here to share what I've learned thus far! Qualified 200h RYT, AIMS Global Level 1 Mentor.