If you think your kids are spending too many hours at the computer, television, smart phone or game console, blogger Kristen Howerton has four great tips for controlling their screen time.
1. Clean before screen
Kristen and her husband have created a rule where the kids have to pick up around the house before they can have screen time. It teaches the kids to take some responsibility for contributing to household tasks, and the housework gets done in the process.
2. Use screen time as a homework reward
Similar to tip #1 above, this work-reward relationship means that the important stuff gets done first. When your kids complete their homework, screen time becomes one of the rewards for meeting their responsibilities.
3. Use a timer
Recognize that it’s easy for adults and kids alike to lose sense of time in front of a screen. Kristen suggests that parents decide beforehand how much time will be allowed on screen, set a timer, and then move on when the alarm sounds.
4. Use a token system for screen time
Kristen makes it clear to her kids that screen time is a privilege, not a right. Accordingly, she has them pay for portions of their screen time using popsicle sticks as tokens. They earn popsicle sticks by being respectful and following the rules of the house. Each day, if their behaviour is in order, her kids can earn one token for a television program and one token for 30 minutes on the computer or smart phone. The popsicle sticks go into a mason jar when the kids redeem them.
We are surrounded by electronic media. Computers, smart phones and screen gadgets are not going to go away, so parents are well advised to develop reasonable controls for screen time that are easy to enforce.
What advice do you have for controlling kids’ screen time? We welcome your tips in our Comments section below.