Kids & Technology: Changing Our Screen Time Rules

About a month ago I asked for some advice regarding how you handle screen time with your school aged kids.  I was absolutely blown away by the response I got on this subject and it seems like many of us are on the same page and looking for the "right" thing to do. I can't thank you all enough for reaching out and giving me suggestions, telling me what works or doesn't work for your family and those of you that were in the same boat as me just made me feel better.  This is new territory for most of us to navigate and I think we're all just trying to figure out what is best. At least I know I am!

First let me say that everyone has a system that works for their family and their kids, I don't think there is a one size fits all solution.  Secondly I don't think we as parents should beat ourselves up if we slip up on our technology rules or if we're lax with them.  We all have hard weeks or long car rides or traveling spouses and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to survive!  That being said I'm really hoping to stick with our new technology rules for the school year.  As I said I'm not setting anything in stone I'm just hoping if we stick with this routine it will be best for all of us.

Today I'm going to address some questions I received and the ideas you all shared with me on what worked for our family.

A little background on our original screen time rules... 
First I want to say that I've always been pretty laid back when it comes to tv and ipad/kindle usage.  Not because I don't care but because I'm the type of person that feels if you make too big a deal about something then the kids will just want it even more.  I grew up in a house with pretty laid back tv rules and I'm not a big tv watcher as adult.  I don't know if these two correlate but I believe they do. I just think tv was a never a huge part of our family life and I hope if I don't make it this big special thing my kids will feel the same way I do as an adult.

Right now both of the kids have a Kindle Fire 7 (they call them ipads) that we have the Freetime app on and they have access to certain games like Minecraft under my name. We don't allow them to be signed in to chat or anything for these games.  We usually let them have a show or two in the morning before school and then another one or two after school if they ask.  As for the ipads we had purchased them to be for travel only but then Miller starting playing some educational games on his, then he got into Minecraft and then I found myself letting him use it more and more but it was still never a huge problem until recently.

What made you want to change your screen time rules?  
Now that you have the background story, I do feel like the kids ipad/kindle use got a little out of control over the summer. We did a lot of traveling and I met with a lot of contractors and vendors for the beach house that the kindle became our go-to for entertainment when I needed them to kept busy inside. Once we got back from labor day weekend I found the kids were still constantly asking for their ipads.  At first I was letting them have a little time with them after school but I found the fights over giving them up got to be awful and I hate when that happens.  There were tears, yelling, stomping and door slamming.  It was not pretty and I quickly realized that there was no way we were going to live like this throughout the school year.   So I polled you all and got so many good ideas which we immediately put into action.

What ideas did people give you to help manage screen time? 

  • No ipad time Monday-Friday 
  • No ipad or tv time Monday-Friday
  • A set number of daily time on the ipad- example: 20 minutes a day, 1 hour a day, etc every day of the week.
  • A set number of minutes for a week to be used as they wanted- example: they get 60 minutes and could do 10 mins a day for 6 days or 30 minutes for two days
  • They have to earn ipad or tv time by doing homework, chores, reading extra books, etc.

What did you decide to do?  
After talking it over with Kyle we decided to do no ipad/kindle time Monday-Friday. Then on weekends they are allowed to use it for a set amount of time (usually an hour) after activities are over ie sports, church, etc.  The kids are still allowed to have tv shows before and after school at this point but we've drastically cut down on both as the school year has gone on.

Why did you choose this way?
Knowing our kids we know they work better with an all or nothing style.  When we first decided to do this there was definitely some fights but once I put the ipads away and the kids couldn't see them anymore it was amazing how quickly they got over it and moved on.  It sort of reminded me of taking the pacifier away from both of them. We had to just take it away cold turkey and they moved on eventually.

How is it going so far?
We are about one month into our new arrangement and I would say it's going great! Yes there are times during the week when one of them will ask for the ipad but we just remind them it's not the weekend yet and that usually stops the conversation.  We have had times on a Saturday or Sunday when there has been a fight to give it up when their time was up but we've also had times when they don't even seem interested in playing with them when they're allowed too.  Let me just say it's so much better than the fights we were having with them (especially Miller) daily in the beginning of the school year.

Do you like the Kindle Fire instead of the ipad for the kids?  Do you have the kid's Kindle or a regular one?
Quite a few of you asked me about this so I figured I would cover it here too. We did not buy the Kindle Fire for kids. What we did was buy a Kindle 7 which I believe was only $49 at the time and then we set up profiles for the kids on their Kindles with the Freetime App.  You do have to pay a monthly fee for this app (I think you get the first year free on the kid's Kindle) but it is completely restricted to only kids games, moves, books etc.  The kid's Kindle also has a free replacement policy where you can send it back if they crack the screen and get a new one.  While that's great and all we decided if our kids break their Kindles then that's tough luck and they'll have to play with a broken screen.  Guess what Matthew cracked his screen a little by throwing his ipad a few months ago and we're making him play with it broken ;).  Sorry if that makes me a bad mom but I don't believe in just getting him a new one because he broke it.  He needs to learn the lesson.

The only downside I've found to the Kindle is that it doesn't move as quick as an ipad so if your kids are used to Apple technology the Kindle can be frustrating to use at first.  The Kindle also doesn't have a ton of storage for games. I even have an SD card in both for more storage and I'm finding out as Miller gets into older more complex games like Minecraft we're running out of storage.  For the time being the Kindle Fire is working great for us.  I do think maybe one day down the road we would let the kids have real ipads but for now they're not asking for them so we're sticking with what we have. 

How do you handle screen time for your kids? 



  1. Such a great topic and one I'm navigating and constantly tweaking as a parent! I'm really on the same page with you as far as your outlook on TV -- the tv wasn't always on in my house growing up, but we also didn't have really strict rules. We'd often watch a couple of shows together as a family, actually (remember TGIF?!). I think it made for a good balance. My kids have a show in the morning before school if there's time and then usually one or two after school. If it ends up to be a little more some days, I try not to stress. Some days there isn't time for any. We have one "family" ipad and it's almost entirely used for travel -- and, again, I don't really stress about that. If we have a 2 hour trip ahead of us, I don't mind turning on a movie for the girls. Once the movie is done they flip through books or we play I Spy. As with everything in life, healthy balance is key, I think!

  2. Such a great topic because there is no one size fits all solution, but sharing how you handle it is SO helpful!! This is so hard to deal with and a constant battle in our house, especially because as the kids hit third grade in our school, devices become required for certain classes UGH. I think you're handling this really well!!!!


Thanks for stopping by my blog! Your comments make my day. If you have a question feel free to email me at eastcoastnat@gmail.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogger Template Created by pipdig