Common Sense Solutions

ICYMI (Dad, that’s short for “in case you missed it”), I wrote an article for kidsburgh.org about managing screen time. It was born out of the frustration I feel about the advent of Kindle Fires in my house.

The opening line? “The tablet computers were the worst Christmas present we ever gave our children.”

After writing the story, I will admit to feeling less despair about our computer tablet quandary. We put new guidelines in place (see below).

I will admit, though, I hate the constant monitoring. Setting timers, collecting the tablets when time is up, checking that they aren’t getting into topics they shouldn’t.

But, such is life with media and children. I will also tell you, if you are in a similar situation, Common Sense Media really does a good job of rating apps, TV shows, and movies for children; providing guidelines for parents; and providing a safe forum to ask questions and get feedback. I would highly recommend them as a go-to parenting site. It’s a new world, and children need boundaries. If you find it’s hard to set them for screen time, this site is a great resource.

In the meantime, here are some of the changes that Dan and I made when it seemed things were spiraling out of control (seriously, he took away all screens at one point, including the Wi-Fi router, which I asked him to return since I needed it to WFH).

New Rules on Tablets

Dear Flora, Kate, and Michael,

Tablets are not be available until after dinner. Please, don’t even ask.

Before you get tablets, the following tasks must be fulfilled:

  • Homework done, shown to mom, and approved.
  • Dishwasher empty, table set.
  • Q & A journals filled in and discussed.
  • After dinner: table cleared; dishes rinsed and put in dishwasher.
  • In bedrooms: beds will be made; clean clothes put away; dirty clothes put in hampers. Floors will be clear of paper, garbage, and books.
  • Lunches packed.
  • In front room: pillows and blankets will be put neatly on couches.

THIS MEANS EVERY DAY, MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY. You may have tablets for an hour each weekday if the above conditions are met and/or activities have been attended (i.e. soccer practice, gymnastics).

On weekends, tablets will not be available until beds are made, breakfast has been eaten, and laundry has been taken next door. Tablet time on weekend is limited to two hours. If I get grief when I ask you to do a chore for the household, you will lose 10 minutes.

If you come in my room before 8 a.m. to get your tablets, you will lose 30 minutes.

The kitchen table and bedrooms are tablet-free zones. Tablets will not be allowed in the car except on long trips. They are not to go to school EVER; they are not to go to friends’ houses or on sleepovers.

Lying to me or dad about tablet use will result in an immediate suspension for 24 hours.

One more call from or conference with your teachers indicating you are not doing your school work will result in tablets going away AT LEAST until the summer.

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I will also tell you: These rules keep Dan and I in check when it comes to our phones. We have to respect our own rules in order for our children to respect them. Mileage varies, but I think we are all getting better at setting limits for ourselves, and figuring out what to do when the screens are off.

Do you have rules about screen time? Why or why not?

One thought on “Common Sense Solutions

  1. I love that rule about coming in to your bedroom before 8 in the morning.

    Between the various activities and our crazy schedule there isn’t much time for screens during the week. We don’t have hard rules but have general guidelines that we try to follow that the kids are aware of. Most important is the parents are on the same page.

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