We’re Ditching Screentime Limits
Last week in my weekly newsletter I mentioned that we were ditching screentime limits and wow. I have never received so many responses in reply to an email before!
In the newsletter I shared what we were experimenting with and I asked for you all to share how you approach screentime and I appreciate so many of you taking time to share how you approach it in your family.
I said I would report back this week on how things were going but because of all the responses I got I realized I needed a bit more space to share about this experiment than just a newsletter, so here we are.
If you are curious about ditching screentime limits or just curious to know how others approach screentime, read on!
I should just note as well: my kids are nine (ten next month!) and twelve, keep that in mind as you read this.
WHAT WE USED TO DO
I think it’s important to know where we’re coming from before I share where we are going.
For the last while (year? two? I don’t remember), we’ve had the same approach to screentime: the kids could each have three hours throughout the week (but only after school stuff was done and it was usually only afternoons and some evenings that were available for this) and then three hours on the weekends.
What I liked about this method:
- it made them learn to ration and space out their screentime
- it set some healthy boundaries
What I didn’t like about this method:
- it’s very hard to track three hours over the course of a week. I wanted the kids to do it independently but sometimes timers would get erased and it became a bit of a hassle.
- it wasn’t teaching them to learn how to create healthy screentime habits on their own
- it didn’t take weather into consideration, in my opinion some days/seasons are better suited to more or less screentime than others, a week of -30? more screentime is fine! spring finally arrives? get outside and enjoy it!
OUR PLAN GOING FORWARD
What I shared about in my email last week was that we were experimenting with ditching our previous restrictions and the plan is for the kids to be able to use screens from 1pm-8pm.
Their school work gets done in the morning and their chores are supposed to as well.
Closing off at 8pm means they have a couple hours before they go to bed to unwind without screens (we are now in that stage where one or both kids go to bed after us).
One thing to note: they are still only allowed to do approved screens, games we’ve approved, watching YouTube channels we’ve approved, etc, we’re not letting them go do town and pick anything they want.
WHAT YOU ALL HAD TO SAY
It was so interesting to hear all you guys had to say in your emails!
The emails were very polarizing, for the most part people either seem to be for getting rid of screen time limits or strongly opposed to the idea.
I’m all for us each doing what works best for our individual families, but here are a few of the things some of you shared with me in how you approach sceentime:
- “They do use screens a good bit (but so do I), but they do seek out alternatives and often will answer my invitations to do other activities.”
- “As a general rule, I prefer no more than an hour total screen time except “educational” or “self improvement” videos, such as Art for kids hub while drawing, looking up sheet music for new songs to play on piano, or audiobooks, etc. We don’t limit that kind of time.”
- “We don’t worry so much about how many hours as we make sure work is done first.”
- “We are trying to take away the allure of screen time by not having too many rules around it and guide [our son] to make the decision for himself.”
- “My kids have to earn their screen time.”
- “We told them that we would love to give them an opportunity to make their own choices on what they think is appropriate, how long, etc. As expected, they increased their play/screen time at first and we gave warnings that if they abuse the freedom, we’d need to give them limits again. They went back and forth, but got better about their own decisions.”
HOW IT’S BEEN GOING
I’ve expected a bit of a screentime jump with the excitement of being able to do more screens and there has been some of that but not as much as I was expecting.
I have one child who definitely gravitates more towards screens and even they chose to do other things during the potential screentime and didn’t just binge the first week.
Obviously it is early days yet but I’ve been happy with the arrangement so far. I think as the weather warms up here (if it ever stops snowing, hello, it’s April!) more time will be spent outside and less on screens.
I am hoping that they will learn to set their screen limits themselves and go back and forth between content consumption and content creation.
And just because we’re ditching the screentime doesn’t mean we aren’t parenting and trying to teach them good boundaries, that is still happening and will happen more so as we get further along on this journey (right now I’m still okay with some of the screen bingeing happening to get it out of the system). I like to tell myself that I’m not raising children, I’m raising future adults, I want them to be ready for the world when they leave my home.
If you have thoughts that you would like to share about how you approach screentime in your family I would love for you to leave a comment below!
Yep… being in North Dakota, you are so right about there being seasons with more screen time. In the summer, it’s nonexistent until after dinner, and by then, my daughter is exhausted from play and swimming, chores, errands, socializing, gardening. So, resting in front of the TV after dinner and bath is nice for her — and usually short-lived since she passes out cold fast. But winter is long and we have found watching youtube videos teaching us things is really great. How else do we get ideas for things we can’t otherwise find when we are (quite literally) snowed in on the farm for days? There is screen time and there is screen time. We have no limits on education. But we will never, no matter the season, veg out and watch disney and cartoons. These days, because learning is so fun, my daughter defaults to learning and exploration over junk TV. We save the movies and shows for our weekly Junkfood Fridays. Movie and a pizza!
This is so interesting and I’m very intrigued by this approach! I agree that lots of planning and restrictions can heavily increase the allure of screens!
We’re on the restricted end of the teeter-totter of screen time navigation since our screen detox last Summer. We’ve really enjoyed it and benefited from it!
…but also have had those seasonal-approach thoughts rolling around too.
I’m a never say never gal and really looking forward to updates from you guys with this!
I used to be super strict about screen time restrictions. Now, if I think they’re spending too much time, I suggest they take a break. Typically they agree and have a good attitude and find something else to do without much to-do. And it eliminates me having to monitor how long they’ve been on. After dinner it’s pretty much free rein as it’s just relaxing time for everyone, and it goes off at 9pm. That’s worked for us.
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