Last year we drastically reduced the screen time in our house. It was a 2-week process and surprisingly it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
However, summer is a different story. There is more free time for kids and less for you. Summer is when the temptation to hand over an iPad is much bigger.
Even I am a bit concerned.
Knowing there might be a problem I made an plan and I am confident we will have a summer with even less screen time than we do now.
1. Which screen time is good for your kids?
There are two kinds of screen time: active screen time and passive screen time.
Here are some examples:
Active screen time for my kids would be filming a video and then editing on the ipad and uploading to their Youtube channel. Passive screen time would be watching other youtube videos.
Active screen time is getting on an online piano class and learning to play piano. Passive screen time would be playing a video game.
Active screen time is researching something on Kiddle (kid friendly google search). Passive screen time is letting your child scroll through your Facebook feed and watch funny videos.
This summer we will try to allow mostly active screen time for our kids to form a better habit of screen use. With some exceptions, of course.
2. Trick to decreasing the use of passive screen time
Let’s be honest, eliminating kids from passive screen time 100% isn’t realistic. However, it’s totally possible to decrease to a minimum use.
Here is my trick for it that worked so well this year.
I told the new rule in the house that would allow them as much of screen time as they wanted. First, the kids were ecstatic, but soon enough the older child felt there was something more to it. And there was. The catch was pretty simple.
A child has to match the number of pages read in the book to the number of minutes he/she could use on screens. So, if my daughter reads 30 pages of the book, she will be entitled for 30 minutes on the screen. Keep in mind, the book is full page, no pictures, otherwise there are alterations to this rule.
If you want to change things up the next day you can come up with the rule like this:
Number of minutes played outside equals number of minutes you can spend on the screen.
Number of minutes helping mom with chores equals to screen time.
Number of minutes doing crafts equals to the same amount of minutes on screen.
Create your own formulas according to your child’s age, abilities and likes and what do you want them to work on.
The best part about this is that after few days of doing this, the kids form a habit of reading more, playing games outside, doing different projects in their bedroom that some days they don’t even use their minutes for screen time. It gets less and less used every day.
3. Have a schedule.
I know it’s summer and we should stay away from routines and schedules, but after some trial I really think my kids (and me) do better when we know what’s needed to be done. Even during summer.
Our summer schedule is a lot more free and relaxed. We usually make this together as a family and hang it on the fridge.
Having a schedule helps kids to avoid screen time, because they know what's expected from them at a certain time.
8:00 - 8:30 - Breakfast time.
8: 30 - 9:00 - Make your bed, clean your room (if needed).
9: 00 - 10:00 - Do at least 3 other chores from the family list around the house.
10:00 - 1:00 - Summer Camp Activities
1:00 - 2:00 - Lunch Time (help making it, eating it and help cleaning it up)
2:00 - 4:00 - Do what you want in your room or outside
4:00 - 6:00 - Beach/pool/playdate/park time
6:00 - 6:30 - Dinner time
6:30 - 7:30 - Screen time
7:30 - 8:00 - Family time on the couch, playing a game together or just doing nothing.
8:00 - 8:30 - Bed Routine
8:30 - Eyes closed
4. Don’t allow screen time in the morning.
Whatever your schedule is, my biggest advice is NOT to include screen time in the morning. I know a peaceful cup of coffee in the morning sounds really good, but trust me, it won’t be worth it when you will be fighting with kids about the iPad all day long.
Well, think about it from your perspective. If you start your day by sitting down on the couch and watching your favorite Netflix show for an hour, how much chance do you have of having a productive day? For me, it’s a very slight chance.The same is with kids too. The iPad will follow them all throughout the day if they start with one in the morning.
5. Keep the digital devices strictly under your supervision.
It’s like a box of chocolates that can’t just lie there on the table untouched. The same is with digital devices. You see them, you want them.
Don’t leave iPad on the table. It’s a temptation that is too hard for kids to stay away from. Don’t leave your phone everywhere and don’t have a computer open when kids are around.
6. Have Plan B for emergencies.
You need to make an important phone call or pay the bills online without distraction. That’s when most parents give in and hand over the iPad so the kids can be quiet for a while. It would be totally ok, except the fact that you broke the rule of consistency and your kids will be expecting the same thing tomorrow.
So for emergency situations always have a plan ‘B’.
Depending on your child’s age you need to have:
- Quick boredom buster
- Independent activity
- Quiet time in their room
Enroll into a Summer Activity Camp Online with 45 fun activity videos where they can LEARN, MAKE and PLAY games.
What do you do to balance the screen time in your house?
P.S. This is Week 3 of our Stress Free Summer Series. Have you checked out WEEK 2 where I shared about fun ways to keep kids learning during summer and what to do when kids get bored?