Screen Time with Kids

Let’s chat about screen time. It’s something that no other generation of parents have had to deal with so it’s up to us to forge a path and figure out the best way to go about screen time. On my Instagram Stories a few weeks ago I asked my friends how they handled it. I received pretty much every response under the sun in my DMs, and all of them were great solutions! I’d love to chat about what has worked (and not worked) with my children and I’d LOVE to hear your solutions in the comment section as well. Let’s keep this conversation positive as we’re all in this together and trying to be the best moms we can.

I think that everything (well, most things) are good in moderation. I think of the friends I grew up with who weren’t allowed to eat candy or sugar cereal. What did every single one of them do when they went to a friend’s house or went away to college? They gorged themselves sick because they were deprived of it for so long with that yearning desire to just get a taste of sweetness. This is a silly example, but it comes to mind when I think if completely depriving my children of screen time. As a child, Saturday morning Nintendo sessions with my siblings and dad was a favorite memory of mine.

Now that practically everything we do is on a screen, how do we limit it and educate our children on moderation and good screen time? Even my first grader has homework on a computer, which I think is so awesome! I think that screen time should be handled differently for each age group and also maturity levels. Here is what has worked for us and I’m sure will be evolving as my children grow older.

My 6.5 yr old and 9 yr old are allowed 2 screen times a week. This doesn’t include homework time if a computer is needed. We initially allowed them to choose two days of the week for their fun screen time. Currently our days are Tuesdays and Thursdays. They might have scouts, sports, or lessons on those days as well, but as long as they have free time on those days, they’re allowed to play it after school. If they choose to go outside and play with friends on those days (which happens more often than not!), they’re choosing that over screen time, and they are well aware of that. Screen time doesn’t roll over into the next day if it isn’t used on a Tuesday or Thursday. It’s all very cut and dry 🙂 During the week, if they ask to play the Nintendo Switch or the iPad on a non-electronic day, I warn them that if they ask me again they lose their screen privilege the next day. It has worked out very well and my kids are usually pretty happy about the arrangement. In the summer things change a little. They aren’t allowed to sit on the Nintendo all day long. I allot them a good chunk of time to play, but it most definitely isn’t all day. A lot of the time they prefer to go outside and ride around the neighborhood with friends instead, which makes this mama very happy!

When they’re at their friend’s houses, I allow them to abide with whatever their friend’s rules are. So if they happen to go to a friend’s house on a non-electronic day, they’re pretty stoked and I let things slide. Everything in moderation and logic. With that being said, I feel that it’s super important to educate my children on internet and screen safety especially when they’re not at home. My kids know what pornography is, they know what they should do when and if they see it, and we openly talk about it often. However, this post is more about screen time moderation so I’ll keep chatting about that 🙂

Let’s talk about younger children. My 4 yr old daughter is a complete and total screen time addict! If I allowed her to play the iPad all day, every day, she would, as I’m sure most toddlers would. However, it turns her into a freaking lunatic! Even the slightest amount of screen time results in crying, screaming fits. SO, she has quickly learned that if there is even ONE complaint about screen time ending, she loses privileges for a VERY long amount of time. I also have taught all my kids that when I say, “It’s time to be done…turn it off”, their response needs to be a happy “ok mom!”. If it’s anything contrary to that, it’s not a good sign, and they most likely will lose privileges for the next time. Setting a timer for kids, but especially toddlers is key, too.

So what are other people doing about? Here are some responses I got when I asked on Instagram.

-“Every hour you read you get a half hour of electronic time”. -Allie Kowallis

-“Only Fridays. If they fill up their chart sometime they can turn in their stickers for a reward or bonus time on electronics, but limiting it mainly to Fridays has totally helped! No more whining. They just know the drill.” -Marta Dansie

-“We’re trying to do no screens this week (Christmas Break). Except for in the car on long drives or right now when they’re watching a movie while I clean and pack. I feel like all or nothing is the only thing. They’re not good at moderation….They’re so much happier (and louder and messier) without it! But man it’s hard to let them have that space….” -Miranda Anderson

-“We are electronics free except for occasional movies since April. I just couldn’t find a system. And they were hurting more than helping in our house. But it’s been great for everyone!” -Bri Webb

-“We have gone to Saturdays only. Most of the year my son has baseball double header Saturdays so he doesn’t have much time left for it anyway. And then they earn tickets for doing extra chores and being kind to get screen time on Saturdays.” – Nicole Miles

-“We do earning it. 30 min of reading = 30 min of electronics. Elliott just shoveled the driveway for an hour. It’s hard to find something that works, especially with multiple kiddos!”- Kersey Campbell

-“We save our game screen time for when we can do it as a family. We have a Wii and get collaborative games. We don’t have a set day or time ,but when they play we do it as a family or try to keep it less than an hour”. -Lindsey Stewart

-“I think it comes down to how much time )total in one sitting) they spend on electronics. When my son had his phone taken away he was the BEST and happiest teenager! Get the rules down NOW before they’re teens!” -Michelle Orchard

Such great wisdom and so many great ideas here! My greatest takeaway from asking my friends online was to help create healthy habits now while they’re young. Here is an article my friend sent me on the topic of screen time and teenagers. I think of my children’s future and how I can help them now so it’s not as difficult to be away from screens when they’re older.

Please share your ideas and your screen time game plan in the comments below.


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