I suspect I’m in the minority here but I don’t have any time limits on the amount of screen time my children have each day. That’s not to say that I don’t care how much time they spend on electronics or that I wouldn’t impose a limit if I felt it was necessary but right now, I just don’t feel like we need screen time limits in our house.
(To be clear, I class screen time as any time spent watching TV, playing on games consoles and using the iPad or mobile phones.)
There’s a lot of focus on blogs and in the media about the dangers of screen time and the need for activities that don’t involve screen time and that’s great, but what I rarely see is anyone holding their hands up and saying that screen time limits aren’t for them or parents being open enough to say that their children are probably on their electronics more than they should be.
So I thought I’d do just that today, I’m going to tell you why we don’t have screen time limits in our house and share a few occasions where I know my children spend too much time in front of a screen but purposely don’t do anything about it.
Let’s start with why we don’t have screen time limits….
We don’t have screen time limits because I don’t think they’re necessary at all in our family life. After school the kids have to do their daily jobs and their homework before they can use any electronics or do something with their friends which means that it’s around half four before they would even think about screen time.
A couple of nights a week, they’ll head off to the gym for the kids sessions there which are between 5 and 6 and once a week they’ll go swimming, either together or with their friends if it’s not too cold out (they hate coming out with wet hair when it’s cold ;-)).
Lately they’ve been going for a run once a week too although I don’t think that’ll last much longer as they were going twice a week this time last month but they’re down to just the once now.
We usually have our tea at about six o clock so if it’s not a gym or swimming night and they haven’t been out with their friends then they might go on their electronics or watch TV from about half four until tea. So there’s a potential hour and a half screen time before tea – unless it’s their night to make tea which they love doing, in which case they’ll have much less screen time as they’ll be cooking instead.
We try and have a family tea wherever we can and the kids are responsible for clearing the table and sweeping the kitchen floor after tea so that probably takes us to around a quarter to seven when they’re allowed more screen time if that’s what they want to do.
We don’t have a set time for them to come off their electronics but if they’re still on them at half eight then I suggest a dog walk if it’s not raining or a quick game of something if it is and more often than not, they are downstairs within a few minutes ready to do whatever I’ve suggested. They don’t have to join in but it’s pretty much a certainty that they will at the moment – I’m sure this won’t last as they get older but for now I take full advantage!
Sometimes, they’ll ask if they can go back on their Xbox or watch some more TV after our family time and I don’t have a set rule about this to be honest – sometimes I say yes and sometimes I don’t but either way, they both know not to argue (too much) with what I say or there’ll be a screen time ban the following day.
So, I don’t have set screen time limits but both kids do plenty to help around the house, they do their homework on time, spend time with us a family and do some physical activity at least four nights a week. They’re both doing brilliantly at school, they’re in top sets for most subjects, have a great bunch of friends each and are generally all round awesome little people.
Not bad hey?
As far as letting them have more screen time than I know they should have sometimes, I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I do. Sometimes Miss Frugal likes to do a bit of a binge watch of her favourite TV shows when a new season is released on Netflix (she may get that from me) and sometimes Master Frugal gets a new game and wants to spend all his time playing it for the first few days (that’s nothing to do with me, he gets that from his Dad). I know it’s not ideal but I’m actually OK with it because I know it doesn’t happen often and that it’s not going to harm them every now and again.
Screen time isn’t a bad thing when it’s balanced with other things and I think we’ve got the balance pretty good at the moment.
If ever that changes then I’ll be the first to do something about it.
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