Friday, January 17, 2014

Controlling Your Kid's Electronic Time

I am no parenting expert. I make mistakes. Sometimes I'm tough when my kids need nurturing. Sometimes I'm gentle when I should be strict.

But when my husband's iPad became my oldest son's infatuation, I knew an intervention was necessary. We've tried two strategies to limit my oldest son's time with electronic devices.

Click on either of the charts below to download them free from Google Drive.

Strategy #1
The first approach was to award him a set amount of minutes every day. We chose 35 minutes, with the occasional option for him to gain 10 extra minutes. I created a chart which (like mercury in a thermometer) depleted as minutes were used. Before he could use any electronic minutes he had to eat breakfast, get dressed, and do his chores. Time was deducted for any outbursts (throwing a fit or being hurtful).

Strategy #2
Our second approach was to have our oldest son earn minutes by completing chores, being a helper, and demonstrating positive behaviors toward others. The minutes he earns today, he can use tomorrow. Our chart is populated with a long list of ideas for him (e.g. get the mail, set the table, complete your homework without being asked, write 6 sentences about your day, make someone feel special by doing something, try a new food, etc.). Most of the activities are worth 5 minutes, but a select few are worth 10.

Whatever he does, we check on the list. At the end of the day, we add up the minutes earned and write the number at the bottom of the chart, clearing the checkmarks for the next day.

Each of these strategies has worked for us but I like Strategy #2 best right now because he's mature and responsible enough to determine his own fate by earning minutes.

Both charts were printed, slipped inside a heavyweight sleeve protector with adhesive magnet tape on the back, and hung on our refrigerator with a dry-erase marker clipped to it.


  1. It's always interesting for me how others approach computer time. I am planning my own post on that, but we are trying the approach now that has 30 minutes of computer time a day that can be carried over if not used but capped at 3 hours. We are working on organization, so on the days when she forgets to get things from school or to school, she doesn't get her computer time. She can only use her time when her chores are done, and her homework is completed. It works quite well so far.

  2. We're talking about this at our house too. I call the video games the kids' "currency" buys me a lot! We haven't limited the computer time or kindle time so long as they're on it for educational/reading purposes. The video games and tv though are off M-F. However, I've recently allowed them to earn time up to 30 minutes/day for doing fun educational things they tend to gravitate away from. Like Little J is a reluctant writer, but if he'll practice with me and work on a writing piece, he can earn his time. I'm not sure if I like it yet or not...