Bright Ideas from Our Readers: Regulating Screen Time
Our readers share their tips for cutting down on time in front of the TV or computer.
By GreatSchools Staff
Several parents told us that they limit TV and screen time. Others said they reward their children for reading and/or good behavior by allowing them to watch TV or spend time at the computer. Still others worked hard to find alternatives to lure their children away from the screen. Here's a sampling of what they had to say:
Let's Make a Deal
"My twin 9-year-old stepdaughters and I have a deal. They have to read 30 minutes for every 30 minutes of screen time (TV, electronic games and computer games). They are only allowed a maximum of two hours of TV per day. I have found that just getting them started reading results in more than 30 minutes at a time. They often get wrapped up in a book and wind up reading for one to two hours a day and forget all about TV. It also helps to have active neighborhood kids. They would prefer to play outside with them on bikes, scooters, or with balls than to be inside on nice days."
They've Got To Earn Their Screen Time
"My daughter is 9 years old and going into the fifth grade in September. Throughout the summer as well as school vacations, Paige has to earn her TV or computer time. For each hour of reading she does she can watch one 30-minute TV program (approved) or spend 30 minutes on the Internet. For each chore she does assigned or voluntarily she receives 15 minutes of screen time (TV or computer). Outstanding reports from camp counselors or neighbors about exemplary behavior earn her a movie of her choice from her DVD collection."
"I am the mother of two children, ages 5 and 7. They earn screen time by reading. For each book they read they earn one TV show or 20 minutes of computer time. I let them choose the books. If they are choosing only easy books I encourage them to read something more challenging, but if they are reading and having fun I don't complain. Reading is reading! I still limit their time in front of any screen to two hours a day."
"I am from Washington and I have two boys. The way my husband and I handle screen time is we only allow electronics after dinner and the boys have to earn their screen time by doing chores without mom or dad asking them to. They can only have two hours of screen time a day but can split the time between two acceptable choices if they want. This seems to work quite well and the boys know exactly when they will be able to watch TV or play on the computer and how to get it."
"My son has to set the timer to 45 minutes when he plays videos games. When the timer rings....that's it for the day. Also, when he plays videos, he must also do something active outside for 45 minutes (i.e. ride his bike, play basketball. Next to the video game is a small trampoline. The kids jump on it when they are waiting for their turn to play."
"The house rules are TV before breakfast is OK, but none afterwards. During the holidays the TV is off until they would normally return home from school/ child care. Then they can have an hour to recharge their batteries if they want it and that's it. Although when the weather is bad, they are allowed a little more earlier in the afternoon."
They Can Trade No Screen Time for Other Activities
"1. I just tell my daughter, for every half-hour you are not on the computer, you get five minutes of telephone talk with your friends.
2. For every half-hour you are not looking at TV, you get 10 minutes of hanging out with your friends.
3. For every half-hour you are not listening to music on your compact disc or ipod, you get 15 minutes that can add up to spend the night with your best friend.
4. If she isn't on the computer (myspace), TV or ipod for two days straight, she gets to go to one amusement park that Saturday and she has a choice of the two amusement park season passes we, as parents, bought. It can be fun because we have the upper hand (adults) because in some time in our lives, we have been there where the kids are trying to get to.
5. I also have been teaching her how to cook her favorite foods that she likes, how to sew, wash clothes, fill out employment application, dance, grocery shopping, paying bills, writing checks, car wash, look at family pictures and telling the stories behind those pictures, every little thing that I can think of that is in a fun way, but living your life and being responsible at the same time without putting out any expense.
I try to think of the things she really likes to do and then give her the time in exchange. She keeps up with the the half-an-hour/minutes log. Always use what the children really like to do."