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Monday, July 13, 2015

Screen Time Considerations for our Summer Schedule

Screens.  We have them - lots of them!  I suppose you do, too.  Our summer started out fairly busy and we were out and about more than home.  But the last few weeks and the next several to come are filled with lots of time at home and I felt strongly that we needed some boundaries around the children's media usage.

I'm trying to use my phone less and be more present and I want them to learn self control in this area, too.  So, we worked together to establish boundaries and we all feel better about them.

Together with my older son, we created the following list of things to consider.  In general, televisions don't keep us from other activities, but the video games can dominate the day if we let them.  So we created stronger boundaries around the games than general shows:

We may turn the TV on when we wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, etc. We can watch shows, movies or Netflix.

By 10 am, YOU MUST BE DRESSED, TEETH BRUSHED, HAIR BRUSHED AND BEDS MADE. The TV needs to go off at 10 am until 1 pm. This is time for reading, artwork, crafts, bicycle riding, outdoor play, gardening, building, legos, trains or dolls and chores. You MAY use the walkie-talkies or listen to music.

After 1 pm, you may use screens/video games/Wii/other. You may have up to three hours of game time each day of the summer. BEFORE turning on a screen, the chart below must be completed:

Read for 30 minutes?

Finished Daily Chores?
- make bed
- put away laundry
- straighten kitchen
- pick up bedroom floor
- Did Mommy leave a list of extras?

Spent some Time Outside?

Draw or Write in Journal?

Of course, our babysitter is the one who has the job of enforcing throughout the day.

So far, we have been pretty good about sticking to the general plan.  Some may think 3 hours of video game time is too much, but it works for our summer schedule (During the school year, we don't do video games during the week).  It helps that there are a couple of afternoon or evenings each week where we are out of the house and active, so the time is even more limited.  Also, video game time is a privilege lost when there are discipline consequences.

The summer is quickly winding down and I'm comfortable with our screen time situation.  Are you?  Do you have boundaries in place?  Do you differentiate between games/learning/watching?

Note of Disclosure: Every now and then I notice a "binge day" and I'm grateful we have a system for less use overall. Also, these considerations are in place only for the younger children in our home.  My step daughters have differing online regulations.

There is much written on the subject, the ideas in the articles linked helped form my thoughts:

Resisting the Screen Siren

Children Need Outdoor Play

Toll of Screen Addiction In Children

Growing Up Social (includes affiliate link)