Are you looking for ways to reduce and set limits on screen time with your kids? Download the Printable Screen Time Chart for Kids and help your kids develop healthy screen time habits!
How to Manage Screen Time with Your Kids
If there is something most parents can agree on it is that screens and video games are a big part of today’s world. Kids most certainly want to be on a device or video game more than we would like them to be!
Screen time and video games are a constant battle at our house. Whether it is one of the kids asking to play video games, the kids spending too much time on their phone or me nagging them to get off of a device, screen time discussions come up a lot in our house. If you would ask my kids, they would tell you I am pretty strict about video game time (only on weekends). But, that does not mean that screen time always runs smoothly in our house.
As the kids have gotten older and they realize that rules are different at their friends’ houses, we have had to have a lot of discussions about healthy screen time behaviors. This last year has been a real challenge with screen time because the kids have had to be on a computer all day learning at home. Then, you add in that there is not as many options for kids to play (with friends) or things to do these days and kids can be on a screen a lot!
We all know the negative affects of too much screen time. It can be pretty easy to spot excessive screen time in my home as my kids tend to get more cranky and less patient when they’ve had too much screen time. There are many short and long term consequences of too much screen time. It is not just my observation that my kids’ behavior is different with video games.
Studies show excessive screen time leads to (American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry):
- Sleep problems
- Lower grades in school
- Reading fewer books
- Less time with family and friends
- Not enough outdoor or physical activity
- Weight problems
- Mood problems
- Poor self-image and body image issues
- Fear of missing out
- Less time learning other ways to relax and have fun
There are definitely some positives to screen time too!
Video games and screens are not going away so we do need to teach our kids how to use them in a positive way! Video games and their phones have been a social part of my kids life this last year as it has been one of the few ways for them to stay connected to their friends.
It is a delicate balance between healthy and unhealthy screen time. We as parents are the gateway to how much our kids get access to screen time.
How to Limit Screen Time for Kids
I do not want to claim to have this whole screen time, video game limits thing figured out. It is truly an uphill battle to manage video game time. But, I have figured out a few things to limit screen time and get my kids off their screens.
One perspective that I try to keep in mind is that different seasons call for different rules and limits. During the winter months and especially this past year, my kids seek out screen time because our options for play are limited. But once the summer comes, it is a lot easier to naturally keep my kids off screens because there is so much to do.
Kids are more likely to push the system when they know limits are flexible. If kids can play video games one day for five hours and then next day one hour, they know that there is an opportunity for more time. If your kids struggle with wanting more screen time, you need to be consistent in how much time they can have each day or week.
Some kids do not need rigid rules, but most kids do need that consistency.
For our family, we only allow video games on the weekends. My kids are not able to focus on homework and their activities during the week if they know video games are an option. I do not budge on this because once I let them play once during the week, they will ask every day to get on a screen.
Do what is best for your family, but just be consistent in how you approach screen time. Also, you and your partner need to be on the same page or the kids will take advantage of the inconsistent rules!
The only way for kids to follow the rules is if they actually know the rules. If there is not a limit to how much time and when they can get on their devices, they aren’t technically breaking any rules. Kids need know clear expectations on when they can be on a screen, how much time they can spend on a screen and negative behaviors that can get screen time taken way.
Be clear on when kids (and parents) can not be on a screen. This includes meal times, family outings, at bedtime etc.
Model Healthy Screen Time Habits
Unfortunately, it is easy for us parents to get caught up in a lot of screen time. So, if we are on our phones a lot, it is natural for kids to want to be on a phone or device a lot too.
While our jobs might require us to be on our phones a lot, it is still good to have your own screen time limits.
This might be making one day of the weekend screen free or maybe putting down your phone in the evening until the kids get to bed.
Make Screen Time the Last Option
Whenever my kids ask for screen time, I consider whether they are other fun things they can be doing instead. I ask if they have been outside yet or have they played a game with their sibling? Is homework, chores, and other responsibilities all finished?
There are days when all options have been exhausted and the kids really want to play video games. It is a balance.
Use a Screen Time Rules Checklist
The best way to be consistent and to have clear rules is to use a Screen Time Rules Checklist. Then, you do not have to be the bad guy when your child asks for screen time. You can simply ask if they have completed the Screen Time Rules Checklist!
If you would like to use a Screen Time Chart, you can download a copy here. I suggest using this lamination paper so that you can reuse the checklist each day or week!
You can also download an Editable Screen Time Chart to make your own rules!
Screen Time Limits for Kids
Ultimately, you have to decide how much and when screen time is best for your family. What works for one family, does not necessarily work for another. Even within a family, some kids can handle screen time better than others. Recognize that kids handle screen time based on their age and developmental stage too. So, what might work now when it comes to screen time limits will change as kids get older.
It is all about balance and you want your kids to develop a healthy relationship with screens and devices. Video games and phones are not going away, so we have to learn how to manage them in a positive way!
Tell me, how do you manage screen time with kids in your home?
Download the Printable Screen Time Chart
Do you want a way to help manage screen time? Download this printable Screen Time Chart!