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Are Your Kids Wasting Time on Electronics?
3 Questions to Ask

Here we are, all home on a Sunday afternoon, most of us cozied up on the couch….and there are six screens glowing. Daddy’s researching products for a client, I’m writing a blog post, two girls are playing Minecraft together, two girls are watching YouTube and one girl is jamming to some tunes while she washes the dishes. Some people look at our family and think “They are on electronics all the time. They should be doing something more productive.” And, honestly, I think that myself sometimes and start doubting our unlimited tech time policy.

But, my children are digital natives, and using electronic devices is a way of life for our family. We need to keep a balance between “plugged in” and “unplugged” time, helping the girls to develop healthy tech habits.

Are you concerned that your children are wasting time on electronics? Use these three questions to determine if screen time is productive or not.

One of the 5 Tips for Healthy Tech Time for Your Family is to identify useful and productive tech time. If you recognize what is good, you can easily identify the bad.  If you can define worthwhile screen time, you can educate  your kids about productive tech usage. You can guide them toward healthy media habits that will stick with them for life.

 A Look at Our Tech Time Activities

When I feel like my kids are wasting time on the computer, I consider what my girls are doing during their screen time.  I recently took an inventory of how my 5 daughters used the computer or mobile devices over 48 hours. Check out this list.

  1. Designed a roller coaster on Minecraft
  2. Curated nail designs to paint sisters’ nails
  3. Watched craft DIY videos on YouTube
  4. Ordered pet supplies from Amazon
  5. Transferred money between bank accounts to get paid for chores
  6. Messaged youth pastor to coordinate worship sets
  7. Listened to songs as reference for vocal and piano training
  8. Checked the weather
  9. Created a set of “virtual paper dolls” (and taught Daddy how to make some when he got home)
  10. Texted a friend to coordinate ride home from youth group
  11. Researched passport requirements to travel to Canada for TaeKwonDo tournament
  12. Emailed Daddy with instructions for him to get his passport to travel to Canada
  13. Created a basketball court in Minecraft
  14. Looked up Perler bead patterns
  15. Created a visual design project on Canva
  16. Chose challenges to try on DIY.org
  17. Played Words with Friends with her aunt  who lives 3000 miles away
  18. Wrote a story and read it aloud a gazillion time (that would be by our emerging reader)
  19. Found books to put on hold at the library
  20. Played Kinect (physical activity)
  21. Listened to audiobooks while coloring
  22. Listened to music while doing cleaning up after dinner
  23. Consulted checklist of learning assignments
  24. Completed online math assignments
  25. Attended online writing class
  26. Learned Spanish
  27. Found photos to use as reference for drawing
  28. Watched drawing tutorials on YouTube
  29. Completed assignments for community college online courses
  30. Watched a show for pure enjoyment

So, what do ya’ think? Are my girls wasting their time? I don’t think so, my friend. I think this list pretty much silences the doubts in my head about our tech usage.


How to Identify Productive Screen Time

Now it’s your turn. How can you tell if your kids are using their screen time productively? Or better yet, how can you help your children evaluate their usage themselves?

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[Related Post: A Mom's Greatest Struggle in this Tech-Driven World]

First off, ask your kids to track their screen time activities. What do they commonly do on electronics (computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, etc)? You could even take a 24-48 time period and keep a log of tech activity, actually writing (or typing) a list. Don’t record time spent on each activity or you may end up getting critical. (that’s a whole ‘nother talk). Just get a solid of idea of their digital activities.

Then, work with your kids to determine whether the activities are productive or not. Ask these 3 question to evaluate the activities.  If the answer is “yes” to any of these, the activity is productive.

  1. Am I creating something, learning something new or developing a skill?
  2. Am I using a tool that makes my life easier?
  3. Am I interacting with, relating to and sharing with other people (either in person or online)?

Answering these three questions will help your kids evaluate whether they're using tech time wisely or not. This is an important step towards forming healthy life-long tech habits. And, as an added bonus, it will open your eyes to the true value of productive screen time as you raise your digital natives into productive digital citizens.

Find out how this little exercise led to our Unlimited Tech Time Guidelines and a lot more peace in our home. READ IT HERE.

Recommended Reading for Techie Homeschool Moms:

 The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers: A Step-by-Step Guide Apps All Parents Should Know


So, do you think you can help your family identify whether tech time is productive? I'd love to see the list of your family's productive screen activities. Comment below!

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10 thoughts on “Are Your Kids Wasting Time on Electronics? 3 Questions to Ask”

  1. We are living in a technological age. I think to myself that my sons are on too much screen time also, but everything that they do is educational. Thanks so much for sharing this great post with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you join the link up again this week 🙂

  2. Yep, I constantly question how much they use screens and what they are doing when they are using them. Sometimes it is what I would call a time waster but other times they are hard at work creating, building, and connecting.

    • Managing tech time is new for moms of our generation. I hope that you follow me on Facebook to keep up with my posts about this issue. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I also think my daughter spends too much time on the screen, but then again, so do I, my husband and my now adult kids. Since her dad is now very limited in his mobility and cannot be left alone, my daughter did not get to enjoy the outdoors like her older siblings; she became very intellectual and sedentary.
    She spends a lot of time on Pinterest, on art related and writing pins. She researches crochet projects, writing and drawing ideas, reads history and bible related websites, looks for interesting books to read, searches for Christian music to play on her guitar and sing, and watches some shows and movies (some educational and some for pure entertainment) on Youtube.
    She also spends time texting, on Facebook, and on Hangout because we live far from our extended family, our coop, and our church, so she only gets to connect face-to-face with her friends twice a week, her paternal family once in a couple of years, and my family 6 times a years. We live in a tough neighborhood so she does not associate with the young gang bangers in our area and I am very grateful for that, but we had to compromise and let her have time and a way to stay in touch with those she loves, otherwise she would not have any social life.
    However, we demand that she takes breaks. She has to walk the dog twice a day so that gets her out of the house and moving a bit every day. Meals have to be taken at the family table, away from electronics, and we have a weekly game night where we all take a leave from our electronics and play games with friends.
    She has to let us check her browsing history on a regular basis, not to snoop on her but to make sure she is safe. She once accepted a “friend” from one of her Facebook group and we were able to show her the harm she could have come under. She is very grateful that we know what we are doing when it comes to Internet and gracefully gives us access to her laptop and cell phone.
    It’s certainly not ideal but we feel we are doing our best and that’s what God expects from us. 🙂

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