Summer Parenting Challenge… How to Limit “Screen Time”


How to Limit Screen Time

Once the lazy days of summer have arrived along with their lack of routine and schedule- it is easy to allow your kids morning hour of relaxing in front of the television morph into a second hour in front of the computer and a third hour playing video games….. and the next thing you know, lunch time has rolled around and no one has done anything except stare at a screen all morning! So exactly how is a Mom supposed to support her kids desire for some “time off” while not allowing them to become electronics-induced zombies? Here’s some strategies that we have used during the summer months at our house….

1. Set screen-free hours

Setting the expectation is half the battle- because once you have stated “the rules” and perhaps even outlined the consequences for not following those rules- the rest comes down to enforcement! At our house we tell the kids that the hours between 9am-5pm are “screen-free” hours (for the kids anyway!), and should they decide to ignore the house rules, they will lose the ability to use electronics the next time the opportunity exists. Of course, I do remind my kids a few minutes before 9am that we are heading into “off-limits” time…. and usually I will get an eye roll or a small complaint, but then they do turn it off.

2. Have some anchor activities for the morning and afternoon

While I do expect my kids to play with each other and “make up their own fun” during the summer, I also make sure to plan some sort of activity for both the morning and afternoon each day. I’ll announce the plans to the kids at breakfast so that they can look forward to whatever it is that we are going to do. And when I say “plans”…. it could be something as simple as a board game or a book to read together, or something more elaborate such as a cool craft or a family outing. Having a game plan for each day helps to guard against the “I’m so bored” complaints and helps to keep the kids engaged and away from the electronics!

3. Summer “homework” needs to be completed for the day prior to afternoon screen time!

Even if the clock is about to strike 5pm… my kids know that they still can’t park themselves in front of their iPod until after they’ve done their homework. Of course, since my kids will be using a web-based math program…. they might be more motivated to work on their math skills since it involves the computer! (And yes, this type of screen time can happen during the “off-hours”). The one exception to this “homework done before 5 rule” is reading for my kids that love to read and prefer to do it at bedtime. I love to read at bedtime too… and find that it is a much better way to wind down from your day than a rousing game of flashlight tag (although that’s pretty fun too!)

4. Know when to mix it up

At least once during the summer you are going to have one of those miserable grey days when it rains all day long. So every once in awhile, cave in and allow them have a “screen-free-for-all” day where they can watch movies all afternoon, play computer games, and watch silly you tube videos together…. and THEN do the math homework! This will show them that Mom can bend the rules once in while and make a day special (a trait that Dads tend to offer more than Moms!)

*This post was linked up to Organize and Decorate Everything!

What are your tips for limiting screen time during the long hot days of summer? Please leave a comment and share them!

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Sharons Signture Summer Parenting Challenge... How to Limit Screen Time

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barb @ A Life in Balance
Twitter: BarbHoyer
June 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm

How timely! I’m struggling a bit with this. Our family computer sits on my desk which is really my office. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere else for the family computer to go. And, I’m having a hard time finding a quiet spot to work without interruption for a few hours.

I’d like to let the kids have their screen time in the morning, however, that’s my most productive writing time. I’m seriously considering having no computer time during the summer, and just letting them play with the DS’s.
Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted..top 10 ways to beat the heat


2 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
June 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Ah- see you are struggling with this for a different reason…. how to share resources (the family computer) with your kids. But for me….my little zombies will happily move from one type of screen to the next one. So if I said they had to get off the computer…. they would just turn on the TV, or their DS, or the Wii…. etc, etc, etc.


3 Barb @ A Life in Balance
Twitter: BarbHoyer
June 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

My kids would definitely join the zombie club! And, you’re right. I do have a limited resource problem. Hmm. Maybe I do need to think about moving the computer or maybe moving me or maybe just taking a break from the computer. In the long run, this computer situation won’t work. Our school uses First in Math online to help improve the kids’ math skills. I can see my soon to be 3rd grader needing the computer more to do reports and other stuff. Okay. I need to hash this out with dh.
Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted..top 10 ways to beat the heat


4 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
June 22, 2012 at 6:57 am

As my kids get older, they definitely start to need the computer more often to work on reports or research for other schoolwork, as well as online homework. At some point you might have to “bite the bullet” and invest in another computer! We have purchased lesser expensive Dell laptops for the kids to use (share). If you buy them the day after Thanksgiving, there is usually a very good promotion (right after midnight), and that’s when we’ve purchased ours.


5 Kimber June 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm

My one-year olds show no interest in the television. My three-year old has a really hard time entertaining himself and follows me around all day. When I tell him to go play, he will kind of stand there and say, “Can I watch a movie…?” We watch a couple movies a week, usually no tv during the day (we do like Jake and the Neverland Pirates and I always watch Diane Sawyer and Jeopardy). I don’t really know the best way to get him to take the initiative to play with toys himself. If I take something out for him to get him started, he is only interested if I am standing right there with him… Have you had this problem?
Kimber recently posted..We can work it out


6 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
June 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

My oldest has always been a self-starter and loved to play with toy cars and trains and drive them all around the house making little beep beep and backing up noises for hours! And then by the time he turned 3, he had a 2 year old brother that could do the same thing, and from then on, my kids have always had sibling-playmates! You will get there in about a year- when your twins are old enough to play along with their big brother. Then he can “be the boss” and “help them” and then will be so huge for his ego!


7 Lisa June 25, 2012 at 2:12 am

For this summer our family is trying out a version of the love and logic bedtime. It’s no technology, screen time etc until 9 pm then it’s “grown up time” where the kids all head to their rooms. It’s up to them to decide whether they watch movies or play video games or sleep for however long they choose. The guidelines are mom and dad don’t see or hear any of the noise and no cranky pants the next day. The first couple of nights we had rockstars, but we been pretty active during the day with swimming and bike riding. (mom and dad get up about 8 and start the day) Btw we have 12 yo, 11, 10, 9 and 3- the littlest goes to sleep.


8 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
June 25, 2012 at 10:50 am

I love this idea Lisa…. and would love to hear how it works out for you…. love and logic bedtime- very cool!


9 Danielle June 26, 2013 at 6:42 am

I agree on putting limit to kids when it comes to watching tv or movies especially during school days and it should have a time limit. By this, they will have more time on their homework and other school related task.


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