I think everyone has had to deal with their kids spending too much time in front of a screen. Be it a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or any other electronic item that has a screen. Dating my self somewhat. Our first TV was black and white and got two channels and only one had anything good on. We didn’t get a computer until my teen years. Now our house has one TV with 100+ channels with at least 5 directly aimed at my kids. We have four operational computers assuming my wife hasn’t brought home her work computer. There is a tablet and our smart phones. “Daddy can I play Angry Birds on your phone please?” Needless to say there was too much screen time and not enough everything else.
The idea I use, that I probably got from somewhere else, is to allow them a certain amount per week. This is accomplished with tokens each worth 1/2 hour of screen time. They get six tokens per week. They can spend them how they like as long as it doesn’t interfere with chores or school work. If they want to spend them all in one day that’s fine. They have never tried to do that. If two people are watching a show then I need tokens from both of them. If they use an item with a screen with out giving me a token the punishment ranges from a token, double token or all the tokens. Never had to use the last one. If they are out of tokens then they lose from next weeks allotment. I also don’t allow them to carry over. One because I don’t want them saving them up. Two I would get the ‘We were camping all last week so I have 6 from then…” Three I only have six of each and don’t intend to make more.
We also have exceptions. Saturday night is frequently movie night and I don’t charge for that. I also don’t charge for anything I deem educational. There are very few items on that list. If they are creating something on the computer like drawing or creative writing that is also free.
For the tokens I bought a large bag of wood shapes from a dollar store. It took me a couple of minutes to find 6 of each shape I wanted in the same size. The I just wrote ‘1/2 hour’ on each with a sharpie pen. Each kids has their own container and I have a master one so hopefully I don’t loose any.
We have had success with this method. I have on occasion dropped the ball and stopped collecting or lost some of the tokens. We are actually on the second set my fault not the kids. They guarded them like gold. Overall there are less fights without the ‘It’s my turn on the computer’. They play more and are more imaginative and creative.