Having Your Child Earn Screen Time
Screen time is an increasing concern for children. Kids spend a lot less time doing activities that are beneficial for their minds, bodies, and souls. Being busy as parents makes it hard to closely pay attention to the time our kids spend watching TV, playing video games, interacting on social media, or playing on their phones or tablets if they have one.
Not all screen time is bad, but it is important to balance the amount of time our kids spend on electronics and ensure they are engaging in other activities that are beneficial for their overall wellbeing.
In general, we don’t allow our daughter to have very much screen time. She loves to read on her own and prefers that to many other activities. But with summer hitting, we wanted to allow her to have a little more screen time with the increased amount of free time she has.
Instead of having our daughter always ask when she can watch TV or play games on electronics, we figured out a great system for her to earn screen time and be responsible for keeping track of it. This has helped teach her responsibility and has also decreased tension between her and us by eliminating the need for her to ask us every time she wants screen time.
So how do you find a good system for your child to earn screen time? I’ll give an example of what we do, and it can easily be tailored to fit your child/children.
First, we selected 5 activities that can be done to earn screen time. Then we selected a ratio of time spent doing the activity to the amount of screen time earned. Below are the selected activities with the according ratios.
Bible reading: 2 minutes reading = 1 minute screen time
Playing outside: 1 hour playing = 10 minutes screen time
Running: 1 mile running = 10 minutes screen time
Biking: 3 miles biking = 10 minutes screen time
Art/Crafts/Doing something creative: 1 hour = 10 minutes screen time.
We keep a chart posted on the fridge for our daughter to fill in and keep track of her time. We have flexibility in the time range, like if she were outside for 30 minutes that would earn 5 minutes screen time. Or if she were outside for an hour and 15 minutes, we give her 13 minutes screen time.
If your children are old enough, they can keep track of time on their own which is another great learning aspect for them.
You can adjust activities to have better ratios, as you can see for us, bible reading earns the most screen time in the least amount of time, as this is an activity we would like her to spend more time doing. It is always her choice which activity she does and for how long.
Apart from earning screen time, still have family movie nights or family tv series we watch together that do not get deducted from our daughters earned screen time. We just implement it for any independent screen time.
Our daughter has responded very well to this system. She likes to look up the length in minutes of movies she wants to watch and puts time goals at the top of her chart. She Is not generally very self-motivated, but this has been a great way to encourage more -self-motivation and initiation since it is something she wants and has control over.
Having your child earn screen time is a great way for them to learn time management and responsibility in regard to earning and spending. It is just in a matter of her time instead of money. This system also gives children a sense of independence and choice, which is so important for children to have as they grow up.