I know this varies a lot by household and age. What are the guidelines in your home for screen time? What works/what doesn’t for limiting it?
We have a weekday guideline of one 30 min show a day and then on the weekends a movie or two shows. We have a 7 year old and a 2 year old so it works for now ;)! In trying to limit it with the Netflix binge set up we usually go outside to play right after the show so that there is another cool activity that they can look forward to. What works for you @sunnih ?
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Good for you (and the kids!). We’re pretty relaxed about screen time, but in the past few weeks, I’ve found my 7-year-old with the tablet while having breakfast or a snack, so it’s time to step up my/our game 🙂
Neither of our children (the other one is 13) are very active in organized activities or sports, so they do have a lot of free time. We try to get outside as much as we can, and my 7-year-old loves to do arts and crafts. If we can keep her well-supplied with things to do, she’s not as drawn to the screen.
The few screen guidelines we’ve been fairly consistent about: on long car rides, the kids alternate screens and reading or another activity. For the older one, his phone has to be on the kitchen counter from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., and he doesn’t often get to take it with him, unless we will need to get a hold of him.
I look forward to hearing from others too.
We have a Kindle Fire which has some parental options on it. My son is 6 years old and a very active reader. He has to read for one hour before allowed one hour of free-time. He usually likes to play MineCraft during that time. It’s a somewhat educational game. If he wants to play anything after that we try to keep educational games stocked for that time period. They had a lot of great aps like light-bot which help kids learn programing/problem solving skills. Endless learning is a fantastic suite as well. They have the alphabet, vocabulary words, numbers, math, and Spanish!
Good tips! Thanks, Krystal. My kids play MineCraft too. The older one (13) has been using it to create pixel art, looking at an example of a character and then adding the appropriate color blocks to make the design. I pointed out that he’s using math … plotting, X axis, Y axis … and got an eye-roll 🙂
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Glad I am not the only mom to get eye-rolls when pointing out the good in things, @sunnih
They also roll their eyes when I saying I couldn’t pass up a teachable moment. Ha!
My kids do chores to earn 5 minutes to one hour of screen time. They get to “spend” their minutes as long as their homework is done and we ok it.
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I love this idea @bobbi_rasmussen! How do you keep track of the minutes?
I had my daughter design cards (1/4 sheet of paper) for 5, 10, 15, and 30 minutes, and some for 1 hour….we “laminated” them with clear contact paper. The kids get awarded cards when they do chores, and they redeem them for screen time. We listed out all the chores and gave them point values.
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Fantastic, @bobbi_rasmussen! My 7-year-old would love to do this.
How old are your kids, @bobbi_rasmussen? Curious if I am beyond my window of opportunity to do something similar.
Screen time is so challenging. My kids have sites from school for reading and math. I struggle to limit that because it enhances their learning and often find that I will extend their time if requested. Due to busy schedules there more often than not is not time in the evening for pleasure screen time, which makes the limitations easier! During the summer we follow a loose guideline of one show after waking up, one before/after nap….and if the evening is busy with baths a show may be playing or there is electronic games when it isn’t their turn.
I’m a little further along the journey of parenthood than many of those replying, but hopefully you find some value in this. I have two daughters, the youngest one just started her 1st year in college in August and the other is a junior in college.
One way we addressed screen time was a ticket system. Every week each kid received 7 tickets each worth 30 min of screen time (TV, iPad, etc.). It was up to them to budget these tickets appropriately. If they ran out of tickets during the week, then no more screen time. If they had tickets left over at the end of the week, then they received $0.50 each.
This system has several benefits:
1) The kids learned to budget – now that my daughters are older, this helped in the way they budget their money and other resources,
2) It removes you as the parent from always having to say yes or no. The kids had the tickets and so far they stayed within their budget, it was up to them. The interaction usually was, “Can I watch TV (or use the iPad, computer, etc.)?” “Do you have tickets?” Depending on their answer, they knew what our answer would be.
3) It set an upper limit on how much screen time they would have each week. This was the goal in the first place and made it easy to be consistently meeting the goal.
Of course, there were times around the holidays or other special times, where we would give a little on this, but not often. We had the kids sign a contract – I know, it sounds a bit formal – but this also made it clear what was expected of them – and us. I attached a picture of the contract to this post if anyone is interested. I feel this was one of the best things we did on teaching them to budget and just setting a constraint and then giving them the freedom to live within as they wished. We used it with them from the ages of 6 & 4 to about 10 & 8. By that time, they were busy enough with other activities that the system was not needed anymore.
The 2nd way we addressed this, and my wife was not always happy with this, but she agreed to it, once a month we did a screen free weekend day – a Saturday or Sunday. This meant no screen time at all – no TV, computer, iPad, iPhone, etc for both adults and kids. We would hear some whining about this when it approached, but it forced them to figure out what to do when bored. During the day, we got outside, and during the evening we went for a walk around the neighborhood or read a book or played cards or a board game or did an art project.
Although all these electronic devices provide access to so much information about the world, it also takes discipline for both kids and adults to step away from the screen. When I was growing up, TV stations signed off at night, now you can watch cable channels 24/7, you probably have a DVR, there is NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and on and on. I think of when we read the Little House on the Prairie books to our daughters when they were young. Back then, when it got dark, other then sit around the fire and read a book or listen to Pa play his fiddle, it was pretty obvious it was time for bed. Today, in the 24/7 access to media, you have to disconnect and go to bed.
Again, hope this is useful to someone and good luck. I’ve always thought, to re-use an old US Army ad slogan, “Parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love”
@brianrcook Wow! I’m impressed with your discipline and organization of this! Thank you for providing the details. Though your daughters are older now, have you stuck with the screen-free weekend day once a month, even for you and your wife?
Hey Sunni (@sunnih), yes, we try to continue to do it for my wife and I – although not as strictly – it’s easier to do for your kids than for yourself 🙂 When you feel like it may affect your kids development, that’s a great motivator. Good luck with whatever you try; being tuned into the issue is the first step.
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This is a big struggle for us, especially with our son. We have been pretty relaxed with screen time and if behavior is an issue, the screens are the first things we take away. We are finding, however, that this isn’t working well. It might be time to implement some sort of ticket/reward system! I love the ideas I see here!
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