How to limit screen time during the summer – A parenting tip
Posted by Suburban Dad on July 16, 2009
Limiting my children’s screen time (TV, computer, video games, etc.) is a year round goal for me. However, during the summer time when the kids are out of school and have more free time on their hands, it becomes especially challenging. So, rather than get in to daily debates and verbal wrestling matches with a six year old, five year old and three year old, I had to find a creative and effective way to set daily expectations about how much screen time is allowed.
Now, some of you may not allow any screen time. In a way I envy you. There is a part of me that wishes I had the determination to enforce that in my home. My ideal scenario is no TV with the exception of a weekly family movie night. However, my chances of pulling that off are relatively slim. You see, now that they have had a taste of the nougaty goodness that is children’s television, it will be hard to wean them. Do you realize how many times during the course of a day my son will share some cool little tidbit and when I ask him how he knows it his reply is invariably, “I saw it on Arthur“.
So, what I’ve come up with is a way to not only limit the amount of time they spend in front of the screen but also a way to teach them to manage their budget of available screen time on a daily basis. At the beginning of each day, I hand out their screen time tickets. Since I’m not that creative, I didn’t make my own but instead purchased a couple different colored roll tickets. I assigned a value of 30-minutes of screen time to each ticket. It is then their job to decide how they would like to use their tickets. I find that this makes them very selective regarding their screen time consumption. It’s also a very tangible and practical way for young children that are still learning the concept of time to understand that unless you have a ticket to turn in, you don’t get to watch TV, play on the computer, or use the Wii.
As an added incentive to limit their screen time, I’ve also established a system that allows them to turn in their un-used screen time tickets and once they reach a certain amount, they get to take a trip to the bookstore and turn in their tickets for a new book that they get to pick out. This incentive has been a big hit and actually leads to a further reduction in screen time because rather than turning in tickets to watch TV in the evening, they would rather have me read their books to them. A win-win.
Of course, the other component to limiting screen time is making sure that the kids have enough summer time activities planned and even more importantly, plenty of opportunities for free play time. I’ll talk more about that in a future post.
So, anyone else out there have any other strategies or suggestions for limiting the amount of screen time your kids consume?