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my rules for screen time…

My Rules for Screen Time / Oh Joy!

My Rules for Screen Time / Oh Joy!

Screen time is a big topic of conversation between parents and something that not everyone agrees on. I have never been black and white about anything, and just like giving my kids treats, I think most things in moderation are fine. To me, it's about implementing rules that makes sense for your family and for your particular children. Depending on their ages and their personalities, some kids do fine when you say it's time to put away an iPad and some completely lose it and go into a complete meltdown. Today, in partnership with Circle by Disney (a little device that helps manage all your household devices), I'm sharing how we tackle screen time in our house…

1) Decide on the rules for screen time in your house. We typically allow 60 minutes of screen time per day. That means TV or iPad after school or before/after dinner so the kids can have some downtime after a long day of school. However not all screens are for us equal. (see #2)

2) TV vs. iPad. With our 60 minute rule, we noticed that if they were on their iPad, they were much crankier afterwards or had a harder time ending their session then if they are just watching TV. When the TV is on, they will still play or draw or do other things. But when my kids are on their iPad, they are so zoned into it and cannot look away. So now, there is NO iPad time during the week. We sometimes allow short 20 minutes on the weekend but mostly we reserve iPad use only for long car rides (over one hour) and for plane trips.

My Rules for Screen Time / Oh Joy!

3) No screens during meals (not even at a restaurant). All phones (grown-ups, too) go away during dinner. If I want to snap a pic of my food (as bloggers often do), I'll take it as soon as the food comes out, and then put it away. There was a period of time when we used to pull out games on our phones if we were out at a restaurant where the wait time was extra long for the kids. But then we noticed that they weren't engaged, and we weren't spending meal time being together and catching up on our day. Even though it's harder to entertain antsy hungry kids at a restaurant, we have focused on doing so with small toys or games we bring for them to play with.

4) Pick out apps and games you approve of ahead of time. While I have set rules for my kids about screen time, I also think that there are so many apps and programs that are educational and positive for them, that I have no problem with them watching and engaging in programs that I approve of. If you pick these out ahead of time (not when they ask for it or last minute before a flight), you're likely do more research on what's best and most interesting for them and okay by you.

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5. Set yourself (and your family) up for success. Although we limit screen to make sure our family is connecting device-free, I am also aware that screen time is a part of a modern family's everyday life for both kids and grown-ups. I recently started using Circle by Disney which helps you to keep better tabs on everyone’s time online and what they are doing on their devices. It's a little white cube that goes somewhere in your home, blends in like a dream, and easily connects to every device which you can then assign to a family member. Everyone gets a profile and you can monitor and limit online time for each one. I like how you can set bedtimes as well as the period of time that each app or device can be used per day. Our kids are only 3 and 6, so we don't have to monitor them too much since their screen time is pretty limited right now, but I can see these features being really helpful for when they get older and start using computers more for homework, too.

Remember, you make the rules when it comes to screen time and it can be whatever makes sense for your family. These are mine and what works for us and our kids at their current age. If you guys have any other screen time rules in your house, I would love to hear. I also know it gets harder as kids get older!

{Photos by Lily Glass, styling by Julia Wester, styling assistance by Jess Hong.}  

15 comments

  1. This is a great list and is similar to what we implement in our household. How do you handle rule #2 when you are out with friends who don’t share the same philosophy and their kids are on devices as soon as they sit down at the table and throughout the meal. I try and be flexible and just let is slide but sometimes it’s hard when it’s the whole mealtime and it’s hard to explain to my kid why he can’t watch the phone while the other kids are.

  2. This is a really great post! I completely agree with you on all levels! I do not have children of my own yet but hopefully in the soon future I will. All I have to go is by my niece who just turned 3 and a nephew who is 16 months who have never watched tv or been interested in it or played with an ipad. They love books over anything and everything and are so smart bc of it! The only “screen” time my niece gets is she LOVES to look at videos and pictures of herself when she was a baby on your phone and that’s all! It so refreshing to be able to watch whatever you want and them not care!

  3. Hi Lydia,
    That’s a tough one. Most of the time, we are with friends who have the same rules out at dinner. But when we are not, if we have fun activities that their kids want to play with, we end up sharing and the parents usually appreciate that option to not give their kids the screen.
    Otherwise, if it can’t be prevented, then we usually remind them that all families have different rules and ours is no screens during dinner.
    Joy

  4. agree with no device during dinner time (including in restaurants). in our home, we don’t give the kids screen time at all during weekdays (we, the parents, watch TV only at night after the kids are in bed). they only watch TV on weekend morning (1-1.5 hours). on school break though there will be exceptions.
    we don’t see any benefit of giving more screen time to the kids. 🙂

  5. correction, we do have a little bit screen time during the weekdays, only to do song & performance research for singing. 🙂 but big NO for games!

  6. Kids learn what to expect by watching us adults, which has been on my mind lately. My 20 month son just learned the word phone and now is very good at shouting out when he sees an adult on their “phome”! No matter what rules we make for our home and family, I cannot shield him from the influence of grown-ups who are mindlessly scrolling their phones instead of interacting with those around them, including an adorable boy trying to give a wave or a smile! Not sure that there is a solution, but it’s just something I’ve been thinking of.

  7. Do you have any recommended activities for dinner time or apps that you love and recommend? I have a 19 month old who loves books but can’t seem to sit still no matter how many ways we try to distract him while we’re out for dinner. We give allll the activities and then we give in at the end. Do we just need more patience? Haha.

  8. Thank you!! I would always rather see antsy kids learning to engage rather than screens at a table. I have 2 teens so this rule has become even more important! Way to go! I know how much easier it is to bring out the phones and sit in peace.

  9. Connie,
    I bring a little zip pouch of small toys (whatever they are into at the moment like peppa, etc) as well as magnets and some felt shapes that can be used for matching games.
    Hope that helps!
    Joy

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