Screen time update

It’s been about a month since I set new screen time rules for my kids. They were very specific and I wasn’t sure how they would work, but I promised I’d report back!

There were people who thought my rules were too strict and plenty of people who thought they were very generous – it turns out that lots of kids only get an hour of screen time a day. But I was confident they were the right rules for MY family. The rules had to be specific because I know that, if every eventuality isn’t set out clearly, my kids will find a loophole and exploit it. As they’re far from toddlers who go to bed at 7, there’s still plenty of time in a day to fit in two hours’ screen time, even after homework and dance lessons.

So how is it going?

There was, unsurprisingly, a wobbly start.

On day one, my younger son sat with the saddest face I’d ever seen. There were tears.

My eldest was just angry. There was a lot of shouting at me. I didn’t follow much of it, but the words ‘my age’ cropped up quite a lot.

But I was determined. I stuck to my guns.

I was impressed that my younger son pinned the rules up in his room.

And, as it happens, it’s worked very well. I haven’t actually needed the kids to tell me when they’re going on a screen so I can start timing them and I’ve rarely had to confiscate devices at the end of the day, because they’re policing themselves.

My younger son, who was becoming a hermit, sat in his dark room watching endless YouTube videos on the iPad, has really embraced them. He’s got himself into a routine. He does his hour on the Xbox straight after tea (approximately 5.30 to 6.30), then he usually does 10 minutes on his iPad to FaceTime one of his friends. He has his final 50 minutes just before 8pm, because apparently the new YouTube videos he wants to watch (mainly Stampy and other gamers) are uploaded quite late in the day. In between times he’s out of his room and talking to his family, reading a book or kicking a ball around the garden. I’m happy for him to be shut away for those two hours, because I know he will be sociable the rest of the time.

There have been a couple of isolated incidents of my eldest’s Kindle or phone under the bed covers. But, on the whole, after that first stressful day, the rules have really worked. Screen time in our house was really getting out of control. Now it’s back in its rightful place as just one activity the kids take part in, rather than the only thing they do. I’m so pleased I cracked down on it.

Screens, Phone, iPad, Xbox

 

Author: Sarah Mummy

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21 Comments

  1. glad to hear that they are working, we have an hour for the little ones as they get very bad tempered afterwards and Kian is allowed two when they have gone to bed. He is the worst one though and I have to watch him, otherwise he will spend ages on there given half a chance. We are currently going through GCSEs and he is using it as his down time but when asked to come off its always “just this game” or “I need another minute” which results in about 15!

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    • Oh yes, I’m used to the ‘just another minute’ becoming just 15! Sounds very sensible to just give the little ones an hour. I know my son can get very bad tempered if he has too long – which was another good reason for cutting it.

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  2. Really pleased to hear it’s working and still going on. With my kids being much older ‘screens’werent around till they hit their teens

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    • Thanks very much. I find it amazing when I read other bloggers talking about the internet when they were in their teens! There was no internet when I was in my teens – just the home phone (and pay phones!) and hand-written letters!

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      • I owned my first mobile phone in 1999 around the time my youngest child was born. It was 2000 before I got internet access, the old dial up system. I also set up email addresses for all my kids using their names @hotmail.co.uk now i see kids as young as 5 with their own phones

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        • I didn’t get my first mobile until 2000 – when I got pregnant with my eldest! We didn’t have the internet at home until 2005! It’s crazy how young some kids have phones. My 9yo daughter doesn’t have a phone. Both boys got them at 11.

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  3. Well done you…and them! I don’t have rules about it, apart from no screens at the dinner table (unless you are the only one eating – mainly for my OH that one, as there are times he works late and eats alone!) Obvs my eldest is 18 and literally glued to her phone and I can’t really police her as she is an adult, but I find Max rarely has time for more than 2 hours on a school day – and with Syd it varies depending on the day – a rainy day results in more screen time than a sunny one. School holidays I have to get tougher with Max though, and insist that we all go out for a couple of hours everyday, whatever the weather, as he would spend all day on a computer otherwise. Mind you he does spend some of that time doing things I approve of, he is writing a novel, and learning coding, both of which are things that I encourage!

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    • That sounds like you’ve got a good balance. I can’t believe it when people have screens at the table, although it’s OK when you’re on your own – personally I always read when I’m on my own. It’s brilliant that Max writes novels and learns coding. My sons just play games and watch YouTube!

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  4. Really interesting post and its great that your kids are policing it themselves. We used to have 2 x 30 mins of screen time (not including tv) during the week and 4 x 30 mins at the weekends but I admit I have been relaxing the rules lately. They are good though and will come of their devices when I ask them, after the obligatory ‘in a minute mum’. I am totally with you Sarah on the no internet when we were teens. When I met my husband we didn’t even have mobile phones which the kids think is an alien concept ! xx

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    • Thanks very much! I like your idea of having it in 30 minute sessions. It’s good that your kids come off pretty well when you tell them. That’s something I really struggled with before. No mobile phones here when I met my husband, either. The kids can’t believe we used the house phone and wrote letters! x

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  5. I’m so pleased this has worked for you! What a result! And without too much stress by the sounds of it. I must admit we tried a similar routine for about a day before realising it didn’t work for us. Our routines day to day are pretty hectic and it’s different for each of us so trying to have a uniform rule was hard. We are restricting their time on screens though in general so it certainly made us think! x

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    • Thank you! That’s good that you’re finding a way to manage it in a way that works for your family. Every family is different and you have to do what’s right for you. x

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  6. That is fantastic! It sounds like the new rules are working really well & without too much stress as too! Well done you 🙂

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    • Thanks very much! I’m amazed and very pleased at how well they are working 🙂

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  7. That’s brilliant news and shows so much change in very little time. I think I will have to remember this!

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    • Thank you! It’s definitely worth remembering. The best idea is to set boundaries from the start, so they don’t drift too far, like my kids had!

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  8. That sounds really positive and I’m glad that you are seeing the benefits, I think it is like any set of rules, the kids just need to see that you mean business and they soon adapt, I have always had pretty strict rules in place about screens and I think it does work well. Since the boys have had iPads though I do have to physically hide them once they have had their time otherwise I find that they sneak back on when I am not in the room.

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    • I’m impressed that your rules have worked. Ours had just drifted so far and it’s good to see them back on track. I think iPads are problematic because they are so easy for the kids to use sneakily – it’s much harder to hide being on the Xbox!

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  9. Great that you’ve found what works for your and that they are policing themselves, it sounds like it’s a bit of a relief for them to have the rules in place. I will definitely be coming to you for advice when mine reach the age where I need to put rules in place on things like this.x

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    • Thanks very much! Life is so much better now with the rules in place. It’s definitely best to set boundaries from the start and try not to let them slip (easier said than done!). x

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  10. Sounds like a huge success all round! As you suggested, I’m forever coming up with new rules, only for the kids to find loopholes and exploit them. Yours sound like realistic ones though – one hour of screen time would never work here. For any of us! x

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