Sanity, Screen Limits and Sitting Less

I think the question I am asked most by parents is “How can I set screen limits – that work?”

Sometimes the parents explain further in no uncertain terms: “How the hell do I get my kid away from that gaming console?” or “I want my iPad back and I’m sick of negotiating for it” or “If I have to scream one more time to get the kids out from in front of the TV and to the dinner table, I can not be held responsible for my actions.”

If any of those scenarios seem familiar to you, read on. I’m going to share some of the parenting tips that I have heard, read or implemented and hope that something resonates for you.

Screen Tickets: Give your child 2 tickets a day, each worth half an hour. Once they’ve cashed them in, that’s it. No more TV. No more tablet. No more gaming console. You define the rules for your tickets. Get creative, perhaps a yellow ticket for TV time; red ticket for tablet; green ticket for gaming console. Oops, you just went up to an hour and a half. Your house, your rules, your child: but remember that doctors recommend less rather than more.

One Screen at a Time: For those tweens and teens who swear that they can watch TV, IM friends and play a gaming console at the same time, put them on a one screen diet. Although your young people may think they have it all under control, studies show that multitasking reduces their ability to focus.

Activity Outside, Then Activity Online: One mother that I know has a simple snack rule: before the kids can have a cookie, they have a choice of a fruit or vegetable. Usually by the time her children are finished chomping on an apple, the cookie is forgotten. She extended that rule to gaming consoles: after a game of hide and seek, soccer or some other physical activity, they can they play an online game (for a set amount of time).

Minecraft Daytime / Nighttime Limit: If you have a Minecraft aficionado, one bright mom threw in the towel with arguments and discovered a handy trick. She learned that Minecraft scenes alter between and day and night. So now she takes a peek to see what time of day it is and then offers her son a choice: he can end the game now or wait until the it becomes nighttime (or daytime as the case may be.)

Show Them the Ugly Side of Temper Tantrums. If your three year old (or teenager for that matter) throws a temper tantrum, take a picture with your smartphone and show them what they look like. For the 3 year old, this is usually a great distraction to get them laughing and focused on something else. For the teenager, well you let me know how that works out for you.

Marble Jar Reward System: Coolmumtech set up this system: “Each of your children gets their own glass jar, and earns marbles for it by doing chores or good behavior. Each marble is worth screen time, say 15 minutes."

When your kids want screen time, they check their jar and “pay” for it using a marble. This technique teaches them about rewards and making good choices, as well as how to budget and spend wisely.” For more tips, humorous and otherwise, click here.

If you have something that works great in your household, please write to me in the comment section below. I would love to add to my Digital Parenting Tips - Tried and True.

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