Fed up with the fighting? 5 Great tips on managing your kids’ screen time.
I’ve got a problem in my house. A big one.
This problem of mine is constantly initiating arguments, cuing negotiations and generally causing me some serious freaking irritability. It’s my kids’ phones. More specifically, it’s my kids’ addiction to their phones. And I need help.
About 8 months ago, I got all Super Nanny and started an “Earn your Screen Time” program where the kids would receive a marble for doing things around the house. Each marble in their jar represented 15 minutes of screen time. After I was done patting myself on the back for being such an amazing parent and creative problem solver, the system lasted about 48 hours and now the empty jars just sit on my kitchen counter mocking my failure on the daily.
I needed something easier and more realistic to keep these technology tirades at bay. After turning to the internet (hypocritical on my part?) and talking with other parents, I came up with a few techniques that, so far, have seemed to be pretty effective. Check it out.
No Technology in the Bedroom
More than once I’ve caught my son up way past his bedtime playing Minecraft under the covers. Now, my kids are only allowed to use their phones or other devices in the common spaces of our home. This gives me a better handle on how much screen time they’re actually having. Then at night, we have a power station in the kitchen where phones get charged and that’s where they stay. Problem solved.
In our house, the kids can only use their phones from 9am to 5pm during the school week. This basically translates to zero phone time in the morning (because we all know what it’s like to try and get a kid ready for school while he’s “getting dressed” and “brushing his teeth” while trying to watch an hour of sponsored videos to earn more coins). It gives them a couple hours after school, but then is put away for homework, dinnertime and family time. Choose a schedule or time block that works for you, but stick to it and don’t deviate! Those kids can smell weakness a mile away.
Post the Rules
This, too, is a little Super Nanny but it works. Grab a piece of poster board from the dollar store, write up the rules in your home and post it somewhere prominently. When the bellyaching ensues, just point to the sign. Just point, shrug your shoulders and say, “Thems the rules kid,” and then walk away. It feels so good.
Kids need to be reminded that the use of devices is a privilege, not a right. When they break the rules, you need drop the hammer. Decide what the consequences are ahead of time and make them known so there’s no room for negotiation later.
Play with Them
Truth be told, my son would rather play Monopoly with me than play on his phone, but I’m not usually jumping up and down to play Monopoly. However, I often have to remind myself that these kids aren’t going to be living with me forever and I want to take advantage of every second I can get with them. During our technology black-out periods, I always make myself available and willing to do something together. Honestly, Monopoly isn’t so bad.
What are your strategies around limiting technology? Share them with with us in the comments below!