What exactly is considered screen time?Do you struggle with the screen time balance? Do you have a kid who lives for their screen time? Here I want to offer you help for limiting kids screen time… and not sending yourself off the deep end!
I have a 12 year old son here who lives for video gaming. You could find him in front of a computer, iDevice, or tv console game probably 24-7 if I let him! While my oldest (almost 16 year old girl) isn’t into video gaming, she does have an iPhone surgically attached for texting purposes! Then there is my nine year old who has been obsessed with one particular computer game as well as watching videos on YouTube for Kids. This leads me to stress and frustration over getting them off screens and into something else.
What is Screen Time?
So what exactly would I deem screen time?
Screen time is typically thought of as ANY time spent in front of a video game, cell phone, computer, or television.
For our house we make a distinction between educational/productive screen time, and just for fun/gaming screen time. When we talk about time engaged in screen time, we feel it matters what you are doing with that time in front of the screen.
Screen Time Balance
I previously read Growing Up Social by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane in which they focus on raising kids who know how to relate in our screen driven world. They offer practical advice on how we as parents can better relate to our children, thus helping us to help them navigate this world.
Then they go another step beyond that by giving REAL LIFE examples, conversations and real words to use with your kids in your own house.
Through reading the book and evaluating myself and our children, the main theme for me has become balance.
I think the key is in balance. Are your kids finding balance in their days? Do they do things, and socialize with others that are not screen related?
The problem lies within those times and those kids that are not finding balance on their own, then what?
Help Limiting Kids Screen Time
I recently stumbled upon something called the Momentum Optimization Project which is basically a “list of rules, not guidelines” to help kids manage their time.
I love the concept behind stopping the arguing, putting the ball in their court, but still having a way to be sure they get their primary things done each day.
While MOP offers unlimited screen time after The List is complete, I am not sure I am ready to take that plunge. I created a list of my own that suited our needs and limits their screen time to a total of 3 hours earned each day.
No Glowing Screens Until…
This list has two components: the responsibility part, and the reward part.
First you need to decide what you want your children to complete each day in order to have screen time. Typically that would include both chore related and education related tasks.
Our list includes:
- bedroom clean
- teeth brushed and hair done
- any learning assignments completed and reviewed by Mom
- something creative, active, or productive
I split my list into morning and afternoon because there are some things a prefer being done in the afternoon (after lunch), and because my son really wants to get to games sooner rather than later. This way he gets what he wants, and I get what I want. So he completes the morning stuff and then can play until lunch. Then after lunch when he completes his list he gets the remainder of the time. We mark off in 30 minute increments as he uses it. (The screen time being the reward part.)
For my younger daughter she will often be so involved in free play or school work that she doesn’t finish until lunch. This is fine by her and she will get to screen time after her afternoon stuff is complete.
There is NO Arguing, NO Fighting, NO Yelling. I ask one simple question, “What have you contributed to this house today?”. They report to me what is completed and there are no glowing screens until the list is complete.
Our chore list includes:
- wipe down bathroom
- clean toilet
- feed dogs
- dust (door frames, computer desk, living/family/dining)
- vacuum hardwoods
- vacuum carpet (one house level)
- vacuum stairs
- help with laundry
- tidy room of requirement
- suggest a chore (they can suggest something they think needs to be done)
- Mom requested chore (I know there is something I need/want done)
FREE Printable List
Download your FREE Printable No Glowing Screens List from Starts At Eight HERE.
To make them usable day after day I slipped each one into a sheet protector and have the kids use dry erase markers on them.