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Thread: Controlling screen time

  1. #1
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    Apr 2007
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    Default Controlling screen time

    I thought I would share this method that seems to be working really well for us right now I feel like I am always asking for advice so maybe this will help someone else! I was struggling with DD1 constantly asking to use electronic devices all day. I found a solution but we are still working out the kinks.

    I gave each kid 4 poker chips. Each represents 30 mins of screen time. This includes TV watching, kindle playing (we don't have ipads), computer, wii, etc. Anything that has you looking at a screen. Music (even on the ipod) or books on CD are excluded. If they want to do anything electronic they need to pay a chip. They can only use 2 in a row. It represents a total of 2 hrs of screen time/day which they have not even been totally using

    It's been a lifesaver for me. I was being constantly badgered by requests to use electronic devices and I would lose track of how long they were playing on them. Now THEY are in control and I noticed they will do something else instead of using too many so they wont use them all at once. A loophole for now is that one can pay and the other benefits but so far it hasn't been a problem. I also thought they could do extra chores to earn more and they can be used as "punishment" for extreme acting out but so far we aren't going that route.

    Anyway, just thought I would share. The nice thing is you can start with as many as you like and make it as much time as you want. I chose 30 mins so it could be used for 1 episode of a TV show which is what they typically watch (rather than a movie). I can throw them freebies if I really need to get them out of my hair but like I said above, it's been working great and they have not even fully used them each day.
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (20M)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Chicagoland/NWI
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    Awesome idea. I'm going to put this in my tool box for DD when she gets old enough to understand. Right now, we tell her Mickey has gone night-night, or the iPad has gone to work with mommy. That works for now.
    Phoebe Grace 6-22-11; 37.5" and 26.2# at 2 years old! She is my wild child!
    Me & Geoff, 40; DD Phoebe, our June Bug

  3. #3

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    That is a great idea. I think I will share it with my sister who is having a really hard time with her 6 year old DD constantly begging for the ipad.


    Anne (37) DH (37) Olivia (4) Harrison (1)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Great idea! I'm going to try it with DS.

    Right now I only let them watch/play on iPad when I take a shower or cook, then it magically disappears but I'm running out of hiding spots. TV also stops working (I switch input to "DVD" which we don't have)

    I also try not to get on my phone/iPad when the kids are around, just so they don't see me constantly on it.

    Screen addiction is a real thing.
    Me: 29, DH: 29, DS: 2, DD: Born 2/10/11

  5. #5

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    I like it. Thanks for sharing
    KEVIN (6) & MATTHEW (4)

  6. #6

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    Ohhhh nice! Don't have to deal with it yet but filing it away for the future.
    Married 7/10/04.


  7. #7
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    Apr 2007
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    Yeah 6 must be the age for begging lol. I am actually thinking maybe 2hrs each was too much. Now they are feeling like they NEED to use them all and if they tag team it could be up to 4 hrs together. They are still getting used to it though. Yesterday seemed like too much but that is because they didn't use them for most of the day and then wanted a few in a row. Still at least it's controlled and it's eliminated the constant asking. Seriously every time I turned around DD1 would be asking to use or watch something. I am glad she at least asks. I know kids who have their own ipads and they just grab them and get going. Or they have DS systems which luckily we don't. Mine do have innotabs but they are not that into them.

    It's hard in the summer. Especially since here it's been VERY hot and we don't get out too much because of the baby....
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (20M)

  8. #8

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    Good idea! It is definitely beneficial to set up clear limits to avoid the constant asking. Mine get 45 minutes a day of kindle time and, knowing that it is not even a conversation in the house anymore.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Great idea! Thank you for sharing

    I would just give it more time to see if they feel like they have to use all of it. With DS, I limit his Wii playing time to 1 hour a day. He can keep track of the minutes he used in his head so we do not use any tools (now, *I* have to write down how many minutes he used up so I can keep track ... LOL). When we first started, he would use his whole hour in the morning. Then he started budgeting his time and make sure he had time left in the evening to play with DH. And now he rarely even touches the Wii (he may play for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week, if that much). Same thing happened a while ago when I started controlling his Kindle time. By setting the limits, he basically weaned himself from it. So your girls may just need some time to get used to the system.

    I also allowed DS to earn extra time by doing chores (e.g. 15 minutes for putting up the silver ware or loading the washer, etc.) He used it at the beginning but then he would just say "oh, I can just earn more time if I want it" but never actually use it. He will still do the chore and does not care if it is for game time or a sticker.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by macksmom View Post
    I am actually thinking maybe 2hrs each was too much. Now they are feeling like they NEED to use them all and if they tag team it could be up to 4 hrs together.
    I would have both older girls give up their chips if they're watching the same show. I think I would make that a general rule, unless they like differing shows and one is going to leave the room while the other is watching. That's tough, though, because then it gives you something else to monitor ... "No, the show's not over you have to play in your room for 10 more minutes." Ugh.

    Thanks for the idea, though, I think it's really good. Glad I know about the tag team piece so that when I implement, I'll be sure to say both boys must give up a chip to watch the TV program.
    Dorcas (35) DH (36) 3/13



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    What a great idea! I think I will steal it. Screen time isn't a huge issue in our house, but there are days where I feel they are doing too much btw watching DVDs from the library and playing on my Kindle. This would help keep things under control for sure. I also like the idea of contributing their individual chips if they both want to watch, because that's totally what my girls do. Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Cassie, mama to Madison (8), Ali (4) & Wesley (new dude!)


  12. #12
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    Apr 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by khadijavye View Post
    I would have both older girls give up their chips if they're watching the same show. I think I would make that a general rule, unless they like differing shows and one is going to leave the room while the other is watching. That's tough, though, because then it gives you something else to monitor ... "No, the show's not over you have to play in your room for 10 more minutes." Ugh.

    Thanks for the idea, though, I think it's really good. Glad I know about the tag team piece so that when I implement, I'll be sure to say both boys must give up a chip to watch the TV program.
    See sometimes they don't both want to watch the evening show or watch different ones - one on the kindle and one on the TV. In that case I would make them both pay so I guess it makes sense. Yesterday DD1 decided she wanted to do the kindle and DD2 was watching a show but they were in the same room. Then DD1 decided she wanted to watch a show after the kindle but I just said no that was enough. She had the chips but that would have meant DD2 watched 2 and DD1 had lots of chips because she is gone in the mornings now.

    I guess we need to fine tune a bit lol. I really wish I hadn't done 2hrs each but I don't want to take any away now. I guess I should just suck it up. They don't use them all every day anyway it really depends on what we are doing. DD1 just started her sports camp in the mornings so we are all trying to adjust to our new schedule....
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (20M)

  13. #13

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    I tried a similar method for limiting the times they get out of bed every night. I don't think they totally get it yet but it will be a great approach for us soon!
    My 3 yo cuties!

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