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Tips for Limiting Screen Time

tips for limiting sceen time

Today I am sharing my Tips for Limiting Screen Time.  At our house we limit screen time to 2 hours or less a day.  This is not always “easy” because there are so many screens at our house.  If you consider the TV/DVD/Computer/DSI/Leapster we have a lot to choose from.

When my son turned six, we made the decision for him to “earn” his screen time. This is working really well for us. He earns time for chores and for completing responsibilities.

Tips for Limiting Screen Time

He earns 20 minutes for getting up, brushing his teeth and getting dressed without help and only being asked once. He earns an additional 10 for eating his breakfast, putting away his dishes, putting on his shoes, jacket and picking up his backpack. Once we moved to this system our morning routine became a breeze! He was really dragging in the morning and our morning was not happy. Not he jumps out of bed in the morning, and it is “his routine” and our mornings are happy!

What is nice when he earns it before he leaves for school, he knows that he has 30 minutes when he gets home.  He normally chooses to use it immediately while he eats 🙂

He also earns screen time for loading clothes into the washer and from the washer to the dryer. In addition, he also earns time for washing dishes (plastic cups/plates) and drying them. He gets 10 minutes for the clothes and 10 minutes for the dishes. What is funny is now he asks me to save dishes for him.

Other responsibilities include picking up his toys and taking his dishes to the sink after every meal. He also sorts recycling items. These are simply chores/responsibilities that allow him to have the opportunity to earn screen time while also teaching him responsibility at the same time. A win/win for us all!

Our pediatrician actually suggested the idea to us, and it is working great. To keep up with his screen time we are using a great app that my husband found. It is called iReward Chart.

How it helps: With this app, when your youngsters demonstrate good behaviors like sharing, picking up toys and saying please and thank you, you can reward them with star points. They can redeem their stars for a reward, such as a new book or an hour of TV. You customize everything, including the tasks, rewards and stars required.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Price: Lite version is free (limited to one kid, four tasks a week); full version, $3.99

This is working really well for us!  I feel like it really shows our son how to balance his day and is holding him responsible.  I am wondering how the summer will go.  Luckily, we don’t spend much time indoors 🙂 I would love to hear how you limit screen time or if you do.  Please share any tips or challenges you face.

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  1. So good to hear that someone else is doing this!! We have two girls (ages four and one) and we limit screen time to an hour a day of tv, and an hour a day of computer. With the four year old, she has to earn her show in the morning by getting dressed, making her bed, eating breakfast, and brushing her teeth without complaining. Then her 30 minutes in the afternoon are completely dependent on her attitude for the day. There’s one specific show she likes to watch, and it only takes a quick reminder for her to remember the consequences (good and bad) for her actions. Computer time usually comes at some point in the morning (depending again on her attitude) and is used for educational games since we homeschool.

  2. We limit it by the sheer volume of activity we do outside the home. I also limit screen time if they don’t have enough physical activity in their day. I tell my kids you must work hard to play hard. We have simple chores and a family walk or run you must complete before screen time is earned. Some days though when it is rainy we just have 30 of bonus time and they get to watch t.v. without a care.

  3. We do limit screen time when it comes to cartoons (which I am very picking about to start with) but the boys play computer games on pbskids and sports on the wii pretty freely. So far I have found that they usually limit themselves because they have so many other option to choose from.
    We also spend a lot of time outside of our house, at the park, playing or swimming at Silverlake, etc

    We also go on vacation where we camp for two weeks the first two weeks of summer vacation. We have no television except an emergency dvd player in case of rainy days to watch in the camper. This really starts the boys off spending their summer playing and entertaining themselves with games and activity rather than television or movies.

  4. We have used reading to earn screen time in the past. They have to read an hour to earn a token for 30 minutes of video games or an hour of computer time (educational games) or 30 minutes regular tv or an hour of educational tv (Nat Geo/Nova/Sprout/etc)

    We’re about to cut back down on their screen time, but we’ve laxed our system at the moment. Too busy to do the bookkeeping.

  5. We have never placed any formal limits on screen time, though i certanly am all for keeping it lower. It’s somethign a parent needs to show by example. I tend to live by principles rather than rules. And I don’t do punishment and reward systems with any of my dc. (No they are not wild maniacs-lol! They are quite wonderful and responsible yongsters and teens) Like all of you, I am all for encouraging keeping first things first, and encouraging plenty of activity and ‘real life’ experience!

  6. Thanks Melissa for a wonderfully written article, and I am glad that it works. We are at a early stage of a product development, a lot can be done in this space. Feel free to let us know any suggestion you may have…
    Thanks again!

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