As a mom I’ve noticed that the more screen time my kids get, the more screen time they HAVE to have. I’ve found them hiding under beds with an iPad to get their fix. This summer it got so bad all I heard was myself harping, “Shut off the TV” over and over again.
Please shut that off.
Who turned on the TV?
Shut it off!
All day long, until I lost my flipping mind.
Why is screen time so addicting? I read this article last week about the screentime making kids moody, crazy and lazy. “Ah ha!”, I said to myself. Too much screen time really does turn my kids into zombies.
I’m not here to tell you the whys or why-nots of screen time, or what you should do in your house. But in my attempt to limit access to screens and encourage my kids to actually play I’ve found some helpful tools that let me be in control. My kids are pretty young, our oldest is just 9. And we have plenty of screens laying around. My husband and I both use computers for work, the kids see us use them, and they are literally every where. Last week I counted 25 screens in our house! Thank goodness most were just passing through and not permanent. But STILL!
Technology and computers are wonderful and they have their place. And I believe that our children should have access and know how to use them, but like everything in life it has to come in moderation. Until they are able to moderate on their own, we as parents have to help them find the balance between screen and green* time. Here are some tips and tools we use in our house to unplug and shut it all off:
We use Macs, and they come with a built in parental controls that make it so easy. Windows may have something similar, I don’t know.
We created an account for each of our kids and restricted website access, as well as what times they can log on the computer, and a daily time limit.
The time is set for the evening after home work and chores are done. And they only get 30 minutes to be on a day. We can easily give them more time or sign them on during other times of the day. They know how it works, and the computer warns them when their time is almost up. As sad as they are to get off, there is no arguing about how long they’ve been on. Besides the half hour, they are able to earn more time and if school requires it of course we allow them on more.
iPad and iPhones Controls
This one is as easy as assigning a pass code. I’ll be honest, I think it’s annoying that I have to enter a pass code to get on my own phone, but it is a very easy solution to a very big problem. One time, our 9 year old saw me enter the pass code on the iPad, and then the stinker went in and added his fingerprint to the Touch ID. So even after I changed the pass code he was getting on! Sneaky, sneaky.
Guided Access will lock the app so the kids aren’t in and out and all over the place. Once it is turned on you just need to triple click the home button to start. I use this more when my 3 year old is watching a movie and keeps clicking on buttons and getting lost. But it can also be used to prevent kids from going places they shouldn’t.
We keep pretty tight control of computer and iPad time, it’s easy with pass codes and parental controls, but that dang TV. At the beginning of the school year we implemented a no TV during the week rule. But that only works as well as I can patrol. Then my husband suggested we try a Wi-Fi switch. This is not sponsored, I just really really like it. It plugs into the wall and then the TV (or power strip) plugs into it and it is turned on or off by an app on my phone. It’s totally magic! The secret is installing it so they don’t know it is there. We waited till they were in bed to plug it in and no one can that its there. They can push the power button on the TV as many times as they want, but it isn’t coming on! Bonus since it is controlled through the internet I can turn the switch on or off even when I’m not at home. There are many brands of Wi-Fi switches and most of the reviews talk about controlling lights with them, but I think they are missing their market. It’s a game changer if you have a TV in your house. We went with the Ankuoo Neo, because it allows more than one switch to be controlled in the app and have been very very happy with it. If the TV won’t turn on the Wii, Xbox, Apple TV, Netflix, DVD and BluRay Players are pretty worthless too.
Results of Limited Screen Time
Do you know what’s happened now with less screen time? Our kids are playing outside, catching grasshoppers, building bike jumps, and making up games.
Interacting. Together. With real live people.
The adults in the house are also finding that we are more aware of how much time we’re spending on our devices and are much more conscience about getting outside and being active as a family.