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Why I Stopped Managing
My Kids' Screen Time

Let’s face it, moms. We (or at least most of us) don’t know the best way to handle our kids’ screen time. We are the first generation of moms raising digital natives. Our kids have the wide world web in their back pockets and can navigate on the computer and mobile devices like it’s nobody’s business. All this while we’re standing back, silently rationalizing whether they should spend so much time in front of a screen. [Related Post: A Mom's Greatest Struggle in This Tech-Driven World]

I’ve been through the gamut trying to come up with win-win tech rules for my family. Once upon a time, I micromanaged the use, complete with log sheets so that we were sure everyone got their allotted time on the computer. Then, I tried limiting computer time to just a few hours each day. I’ve had charts with different time limits for different activities.  And frankly, my friend, all those methods were a mommy-management nightmare.

I wasn't consistent about checking who was using the computer when. But, since they wanted to be sure they got their turn, my kids did a thorough job of keeping track of each other’s time…and nagging each other, bickering and complaining to me if someone was breaking the rules. The legalistic rules I had made led to strained relationships and unrest in our home.

The legalistic rules I had made about computer usage led to strained relationships and unrest. I knew that I needed to stop micro-managing my kids' screen time and to teach them to self-govern their tech habits. I needed to give more freedom to have more peace in our home. Read to discover how giving our kids unlimited tech time has been the solution to our problem. Plus, download a copy of our Unlimited Tech Time Guidelines.

I knew that I needed to stop micro-managing my kids' screen time. I needed to teach my children to self-govern their tech habits. I needed to promote the premise that relationships are more important than technology. I needed to give more freedom to have more peace in our home. I'm raising my kids to be loving, responsible and productive adults, so I needed to guide them toward healthy tech habits. [Related Post: 5 Tips for Healthy Tech Habits in Your Family]

So, Mike & I came up with Unlimited Tech Time Guidelines. Now, this may seem counterproductive. You may be thinking, “Kids would be on the computer ALL….DAY….LONG.”  But, notice that even though my kids can use computers as much as they want, we put some parameters in place to promote healthy habits. And…if someone violates the policy, they lose the privilege to use tech devices.

Take note that these guidelines apply to productive tech time, not techertainment. Techertainment – that time in front of a screen for pure entertainment – is limited to one hour daily. But productive tech time is unlimited within the confines of our guidelines. [Related Post: Are Your Kids Wasting Time on Electronics? 3 Questions to Ask]

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Need some help managing your family's screen time?

Download a set of tech time guidelines and tailor it to your family's needs.

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21 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Managing My Kids’ Screen Time”

  1. Hmm… I love this! I may need to try to set up similar guidelines for my family. I do have two that are awfully addicted to screens and will even forget to eat or go to the bathroom while playing. These might just be the sort of reminders they need. I could even post it near the gaming consoles!

  2. Great insight! I also micromanaged screen time for awhile, but you’re right, it got too tedious, and if one child had an extra 5 minutes for whatever reason (even if by accident because time slipped away from me), then the other child demanded 5 extra minutes. Grrrrr, what a nightmare. So, I’ve become less rule-driven and allow them screentime after dinner, if their schoolwork and chores are done, and sometimes before dinner if it’s a rainy day. Allowing flexibility has been much less stressful for all of us.

  3. This is excellent! I too have struggled with screen time with my kids, but they know once their schoolwork and chores are done, and they are being nice to each other than they can have some screen time. Thanks for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

  4. I’m so glad you linked up with us at Hip Homeschool Moms! I used to try to micromanage my kids’ screen time, but it was nearly impossible, and just like you menioned, it strained relationships in our home and stressed us all out! It turns out that a more flexible schedule (like the one you use) works much better for us!

    • It’s nice to hear that there are other mommas’ who struggle with the same things and find similar solutions.Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m curious… Would you consider sites like Club Penguin and Animal Jam productive or not? Are computer games productive or pure entertainment? I’m having trouble grasping which is which, even with the three questions.

    Also, we only have a couple computers but up to 9 kids who want to use them… How do you handle turns? Thanks in advance.

    • Good questions, Arienne. Did you read my post about productive screen time? (https://techiehomeschoolmom.com/are-your-kids-wasting-time-on-electronics/) I’ve got 3 questions that might give you some clarity. I’m not familiar with Animal Jan or Club Penguin, so can’t say for sure. Are your kids creating things when they play? Are they gaining new skills that might transfer into some more “grown-up” interests (like programming, design, etc)? What’s your momma heart feeling? When I feel like my kids are using an app as techertainment, I watch them play and ask questions to discern their purpose for playing. I don’t just stand on the other side of the screen making assumptions about their motivations. Does that make sense?

      Re: turns…fortunately we don’t need to deal with that anymore because two of my daughters bought their own computers. The standard we have is “you bought it, you don’t have to share it (although it would be nice if you did). When they did need to take turns, it was first come, first serve. And, if you’re next in line, you ask a sister to tell you when they are done. With the 30 minutes on, 15 minutes off guideline, the computer would be available soon enough. What the kids are not allowed to do is nag sister to get off. That’s not loving. I’m going to post your questions about turns on my Facebook page and see what others recommend. Go check it out.

  6. I am a little confused by the adhere to time on/time off limits. What does it look like when they use those times? Trying to figure it out so I can do this with my 2 girls.

    • We like our kids to learn to take a break. We’ve got it set up where they can work on the computer for 30 minutes, then take a 15 minute break to rest their eyes and move around a bit. We’ve taught them how to set timers and expect them to take responsibility for tracking their own time so they can learn to self-regulate.

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