Published on March 4, 2014 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
If there is one thing we are strict about in our house, it’s the amount and frequency of time spent in front of screens. Not only do we monitor it, but we have also learned that it is necessary to create screen-time accountability and promote gadget sharing amongst siblings, also called “iSharing.”
I will admit that I find it much easier to monitor screen time during the school year since the kids are in school during the day. In the summer months is when it can really get out of control. Of course, so can fighting over gadgets, but we are learning to overcome that too!
Set Screen Time Boundaries
As with anything in parenting, we have to set boundaries. If you are concerned about the amount of hours your child is in front of a screen, talk to your family physician to get a recommendation. Our doctor recommended one hour of screen time, weekdays, and two hours on the weekends. Each child also gets to watch one hour of television, but on busy school nights, this time usually gets pushed off due to extracurricular activities. We do not count television time as tech time in our house.
If you have been unrestrictive with screen time and suddenly begin setting limits, it can take some transitioning time for the entire family. It’s important to stick to boundaries you set, even if they’re not the most popular ideas around the house
Try a Good Monitoring System
I wanted a way to monitor my kid’s screen time so I created a printable ticket that could be used for the occasion. These printable tech tickets have made us more aware of how much screen time we all use, even the adults. Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week. The chore ticket must be punched before starting the first hour of screen time.
Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. In addition, kids can watch two shows daily on Netflix. Since we no longer have cable, it has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out in front of the television. A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour. It is as simple as that!
We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They cannot, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.
Teach Them to Share Gadgets
Although we have many gadgets in the house, there is always the occasional squabble about who gets to use which gadget during their hour. To handle this, we give one child first dibs one day, and the next day the other child gets it. Whatever can’t be solved usually ends up in a rock-paper-scissors battle to figure out who gets their turn. Although this might be a little old school, we find that it usually ends all discussion about who should get first dibs.
Turn Screen Time Into a Family Affair
Screen time gets a bad rap, but when done together as a family, it is the ultimate exercise in iSharing! Try to plan a weekly night together doing something together using screen time. In our family, for example, a weekly dance battle is a must! Consider playing Wii bowling or traditional board games that have been adapted for your game console. When done together, screen time can truly build strong family moments.