Alternatives to "Screen Time"

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Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by mrsrandolph » Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:29 pm

I hate to admit this, but screen time has gotten of of control in our home. We don't have cable or anything, but we have streaming. We also have a WiiU, Nintendo DS, iPads, etc.

I school my 2 olders together while the 2 youngers are pretty much free to do as they wish. Then when I am schooling the 2 youngers, my olders finish independent work and then are free to do as they wish.

How do you manage your kids' "free" time? How do you handle "screen time"?

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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by LovingJesus » Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:08 pm

This is such a modern issue in America. Please don't be embarrassed! :)

We are conservative in this area, and always have been. So I would encourage you to do what is best for your family. I will share though our more conservative stance.

We have not ever had a TV or cable in 18 years of marriage. Through the use of computer growth though we have gained access to DVDs, in time streaming, and the internet around 11 years ago. As a result we did, over time, have to establish rules about screen time.

They are each allowed 15 minutes a day as an absolute maximum for any and all screens. They can be combined, so one hour maximum for all 4 for a DVD can be the one thing for a day. I discourage it being used daily, and during school I won't allow it when I am working with another sibling in order to cut the screen time down during the school year. They aren't allowed any screen time until all their school work is done, and by then they usually choose something else over it. This summer they have been using their full hour many days, and there have also been days I just say no because I don't like how it impacts their behavior. I prefer them to not have screens most days.

My kids have grown up with more days without media then with it. So for us it is more of a lifestyle, which does mean they are used to doing things without screens. Hopefully some of the things they do will give you a few ideas. These employments or activities are what they gravitate towards when I am working with a sibling or two or during free time:
*Play ~ they play with legos, build things (marble sets, trains, Lincoln logs), make up games, play in the backyard, act out ideas or things they have heard or read, take a toy and make up a story with it with one another, etc.
*We go to the park.
*They do have some activities outside our home they go to.
*Draw or color
*Look at books
*They play some board games ~ chess, Scrabble, memory games, etc.
*Scooter in the drive way, get out balls in the backyard, etc.
*Work in the garden

I hope you can decide what is best for your family.
Last edited by LovingJesus on Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:18 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by Jennymommy » Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:43 pm

This is so timely :roll: We have this dilemma in our home, and for so long I stood firmly against cable and video games. Now they are here, and we have all the issues I was afraid of. We have tried to limit the gaming to 4 hours a week, on Friday and Saturday only, but the addiction behaviors are so evident, and the time is so often extended and snuck in, and the kids come up with so many excuses and arguments for why they should play. I hate it! Here is an article my sister sent today, not knowing we have this problem. I hope it is helpful :|

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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by countrymom » Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:34 pm

Our boys get 3 1/2 hours per week, no more than 1 hour per day and no more than 15 minutes of video games per day, with a 1 hour cap on video games per week. No screen time is allowed until school work is done. They each have a screen time chart and they cross off 15 minute squares. The video squares are shaded. I started with 5 1/2 hours per week and worked down. The shows and video games they are allowed to use are extremely limited, as in Curious George or Thomas the Train, or baseball in the summer for tv and Lego games. I started the chart about 3 months ago and found it to be very helpful. When they manage their own time they are much more careful. Today my oldest said, "I don't want to use an hour for the Curious George special because then I won't be able to watch the baseball game. They have become less interested in screen time since I started the chart as well. Given our experience, I highly recommend the chart. I also recommend you work your way down instead of cutting all at once. That worked well for us and they really hardly seemed to notice as I cut time.
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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by daybreaking » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:33 pm

No need to be embarrassed! We've all had areas in which we've struggled and we all have room to grow. :)

One of the ways we manage screen time is we simply don't have a lot available to our children in our house. We have consciously chosen not to have any kind of gaming systems, iPads, iPhones, cable television, etc. We do have one television in our home, which we closely monitor. Since the TV is located in a central location, off of our dining room and kitchen, it is only turned on with permission, and never during school hours. (When it is turned on, we only allow the children to watch PBS or a DVD.) The only other "screen" available is our computer, but that has a password that only my husband and I know.

We manage free time by utilizing a schedule. Our school hours are very structured, with my children either working on their schoolwork, taking recess (outdoors, where they play actively), listening to me read, reading independently, practicing instruments, or completing tasks. When I am working 1:1 with one child, the other child has a specific task they are assigned. For example, when I am doing 1:1 history with my son, my daughter is assigned to play in her room (which has no technology other than her CD player); when I am doing 1:1 math with my daughter, my son is assigned to finish his English assignment, and so on. Outside of school and music practice time, the children also have a couple of hours of assigned chores scattered throughout their day. With them being scheduled, they are productively occupied and screen time issues are eliminated.

Although they have several recesses earlier in the day, their only truly "free" time is for about an hour and a half in the afternoon, when I am available to monitor their activities. They will occasionally ask to research something on the computer or watch a DVD during this time, and we sometimes do allow them (moreso when I am tired :oops: ); however, for the most part, we encourage them to engage themselves more actively, such as playing with Legos, Playmobil, games, toys, reading or for my son, working on science kits & writing music and for my daughter, doing crafts & playing with her stuffed animals and dolls.

At bedtime, my husband reads to each child and then it's lights out. The children have never been allowed any "screens" in their bedrooms, but we do allow them to listen to music CD's as they fall asleep.

I hope this help! :)

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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by Nealewill » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:50 am

During the school year, once sports and other activities start up, there are many days that we just don't have time for it. But if there is time, my kids get 1 hour a day on weekdays. And it has to all be done at the same time - none of this "I am saving it for later" nonsense. Also - if one kid misses it, then it is gone that day. On the weekends, we allow 1 hour and movie day. And realistically, if my kids want to watch a movie during the week, then they can and I would extend it to 1.5 hours. But usually they want to play video games so I limit it to 1 hour. For us - screen time does not occur until everyone is finished with their school entirely for the day. It also must occur before dinner. We finish our school day by 3:00 PM most days and lately I have been working out at 4:00 PM most afternoons. That is the time my kids get screen time. If I am exercising, then they can have TV. When I am done, so are they :-) This has worked out really well.

There was a time we were much like you and your family. Expect riots!!!!! Lots of them!!!!! Also - expect your kids to not know what to do with themselves. I would be prepared that you will needs to spend time interacting with them to get them started on different things. My kids like to play legos, play outside, play board/card games together, have very involved imaginative games - they put on plays for me, they have a hair and nail salon, etc. I would also consider any hobbies your kids might want to develop. My oldest is learning how to sew and my youngest crochet. My son doesn't really have any hobbies yet but he loves to build stuff and tinker with it. I would also get books on tape. My kids love to listen to them. It fills the house with noise and because I hate having the house be too quite. If it is, my kids make a bunch of noise and I hate that even more LOL. Also - we do love listening to them and it just sparks another way for my kids to be creative. My youngest is the only one who really sits around and reads. My other two don't really care for books too much. But, I do catch them reading books here and there when they overly bored with no one to play with. And finally, I am pretty liberal with letting my kids stuff out and play with it. If my kids want to paint, I them and don't help. They get it all out and clean it all up. My oldest is very artistic. She will lead the arts and crafts for everyone on a whim with interesting ideas. My kids also like to cook. If they want to make something, I let them. And I only help with putting things in or taking things out of the oven. I probably sounds like I am not available to my kids much but I work from home and I don't always have time to give them in helping with some of these things.

Once we got rid of screen time, I noticed a huge change in my kids. They were much happier and they slept a lot better. It took time to get to this point though in my house where no one complains and my kids entertain themselves. My kids weren't always creative and they couldn't do nearly as much for themselves. But now that we have had this schedule for a couple of years, I have been very impressed with their independence and creativity. My kids are now to the point that they can think of a lot of things to do on their own because they have a lot of time to do it. And sometimes they sit around just around thinking and talking, not doing much. That is okay too! But again, I would expect that the beginning will be the most challenging.

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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by MomtoJGJE » Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:45 am

We are more liberal on screen time. Right now they can watch any time we aren't doing school or chores. But it's literally been too hot to be outside most days. When the weather gets to where they can go outside more than 30 minutes (soon PLEASE!!!) I will limit it again. I also have the issue of having an almost 3yo who gets bored easily... so I let her watch an episode of Peppa Pig or Caillou (I hate his whining, but it keeps her out of trouble!) while I am doing school with the 6 year old.

When I limit it the only time they have screens is from after school on Friday until supper time Sunday. Whenever we are home they can use electronics. But generally we have stuff to do and aren't home much during that time. Saturdays are game days for either the sports they play or we go to Mississippi State home football games, which are weekend trips because we live 8 hours away from there. Sunday we have church and dont get home until around 12:30 or 1. So when we limit it, most weekends they only have about 3-4 hours total of screen time. Oh, and they aren't allowed screens in their rooms after bedtime and we do bedtime early when we are home... like asleep by 7pm early.

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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by gardenmama28 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:33 am

I recently did some research on what the "experts" say about how much screen time kids should have. The most common amount was 1-2 hrs per day. So I set my mental goal for 1 hr per day. They are each allowed to go on the tablet for 1/2 hr per day. Then if they want they can watch a short movie/show that is 45 min long or less. We do not have cable, satellite or netflix - if its going to be a movie it is a DVD that we own. So far we have not gotten into any video games but maybe thats because our older kids are girls????

I do know that my sister-in-law was having trouble with her boys fighting all the time...... Her husband told her that they had to take away the Wii - she didn't think it would make much difference because they didn't play it very much and had time limits. But she was shocked because it made an enormous difference in her kids attitudes and how well they played together.

I do think that it is important in today's day and age to give our kids some screen time. It is an education in itself to understand how technology of today works. I am not a techie - I don't even have a cell phone and hardly know how to use the one my husband has. But I want my kids to feel competent in this area as they get older and need to use technology in their daily lives. It definitely is something that needs careful thought and I think each family will come to their own conclusions on the matter.

Last summer I had a colicky baby and the TV watching got really out of control as I tried to manage. So in august our whole family took a media fast - no tv or movies, no computer except checking email or paying bills etc. It was pretty rough for the first week (and the one long trip we took without our portable DVD player!) But I think it was really good for all of us and when it came time to go back to media after our fast, the addiction was seemingly broken (for them and for me!)

All the best as you navigate these waters!

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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by TrueGRIT » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:46 am

My oldest is the only one we have an issue with for too much screen time. We have him do school, read the Bible and other, do a chore or two - basically earn a right to play. Then we set a timer, we used to allow 1 hour but now he gets 30-45 minutes. We are too busy otherwise and we want him to learn to make good use of his time.
Afterward the Wii and DS are kept locked away. We don't have tv, video, etc so I think out of sight, out of mind works for our younger ones. They much prefer to play outside, read, play Legos, or even cook!

We all do school within sight of each other and my dd is the only one allowed access to a computer during school. I am not above giving extra work - chores or school- if they can't find something constructive to do while I am working with another child. That is my favorite alternative - work.
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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by raindrops » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:30 am

If you take one thing away from this thread, it is that Legos are an amazing toy.

...they are popular in our house too.

I generally discourage tv during the day. If the sun is up, play outside (actually, it is raining and ds is out there anyways playing in the dirt...) or do schoolwork or play with toys. Sometimes I give them the choice, help me clean or go play outside. They always go out. LOL. We do not have tv channels so if they watch something it is a dvd. We have a lot of games like board games and lots of building type toys.

So basically, I just discourage tv during day and especially not before schoolwork or if the house is super messy. If they have already done school, cleaned and played outside then okay, they can watch something. :)
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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by Tami » Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:53 pm

We have cable, tablets, and xbox or things like that. We use our tv as a family to watch sports and an occasional movie.

For the tablets I found a GREAT app called "Screen Time". Check it out! It has a school time blocker, bed time blocker, a new app blocker, etc. We don't allow game play on the tablet during the during the school week but my kiddos have access to audio books (some of their school books), adventures in odyssey, KLove, and they can check the ever popular ESPN app for the latest scores. :D They don't have access to everything during the school day but they can use the apps that help them.

They are also involved in sports and choir, so we are BUSY!

We do a lot of outdoor activities, such as walks, bike rides, trampoline, backyard baseball, volleyball, etc. We really got into bad habits with tablets this summer but they haven't complained this first week of school. Gotta love that!
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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by MelInKansas » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:47 am

We have struggled with this too and I struggle on two levels.

1) I severely limit screen time for all the reasons others have mentioned. When we have it the kids are grumpy and whiney and feel entitled to have it every day. Especially one of my children it is all she thinks about and she obsesses and asks about it constantly. This is the same with video games, TV, whatever (we do not have video game systems, but my kids do have an iPod touch and iPhone that were passed down from older cousins). With it being strictly limited (we do about an hour of screen/game time each day and ONLY if they have done school and chores with a good attitude - so not on weekends for example, except occasionally DH does let them do it on Sunday) my kids are creative and play more, their attitudes are better, and they know better than to ask when it's not the allotted time.

2) However, at some point, which my 10 year old is nearing, I want my kids to have the self-control to choose and to learn that self-control. Right now the limits are all mom-control. How do I make that transition? Anyone who has gone down that road have any good advice for me (for all of us)? My sister-in-law, who has graduated 3 kids and has 3 still in school and homeschools, seems to find a balance somehow. She does let her teens have free reign of media, the teens do have their own cell phones, but the computer is kept in a public area. They watch TV but pick wholesome things to watch. They are really involved in sports and activities. I notice this with my brother's family, they let the kids do whatever they want on phones and tablets, but they also have so many activities each day and the kids go to school, so the amount of time these kids have to just goof around on phones is MUCH less than what my kids would have.

Really, DH and I use our phones and computers when we want, and as the kids get older I guess I think they should have some of that freedom too. It goes into the whole "let them make mistakes while they are at home, and learn lessons" category. DH and I just obviously know (usually) when it's appropriate and when it's not.

Yes using technology is a life skill but most kids will pick it up very easily with very little time. And the life skills would be things like typing, using word processors, calendars, etc, not things they generally choose to do with their free time. Well, actually my 10 year old has a pretty good calendar set up on her iPhone (which does not have any cellular service). She is my little organizer.
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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by Tami » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:57 am

MelInKansas wrote: I want my kids to have the self-control to choose and to learn that self-control. Right now the limits are all mom-control. How do I make that transition?
It is a difficult transition for some kiddos. This is one reason that I like the "Screen Time" app. I don't limit anything other than games during the school day (though they only get 30 minutes on other days but can earn additional time). My kids have full access to the web (and other approved apps) but I can see what they are searching and the sites they visit from my phone. So far, they have made wise choices and we've had very few issues. I even forgot to set the 'school time blocker' last week but no one even looked at the games during the day.

As for TV, we've never watched during the day (unless it's a sport) and we always change the channel during commercials. I wondered one time what they would do if we weren't in the room so purposely left for a bit....sure enough, when the commercials came on they flipped to a safe channel. Yay! I don't know if it will always be that way but at 14yo they are handling things well. Some of my older children haven't made good choices in this area....same example, same guidelines, etc., so I think much depends on the child.
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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by MelInKansas » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:44 pm

You had asked more specifically about what to use instead of screen time and how to transition away from it during the school day. I don't think I answered that part of it very well.

It will be tough. At least with my kids it would be tough. We already own lots of good board games, my kids have learned some card games, they have some crafts they enjoy doing that they can do anytime (as long as they clean up afterwards). Either set up a schedule with some ideas of what they can do, or be available to direct. Expect some whining. But stand firm and let them know you stand firm. Again, if you want to use it as a reward or rest thing for after work is done, maybe that will help them also. It's good to have a goal to accomplish before getting to do something they like. I think that pattern has helped me in life, as that's how it was when I was growing up too, and that habit is just so ingrained in me now.

It is so much easier and more peaceful (in some ways) to school while allowing that screen time. Sometimes the interruptions and issues with some of my younger ones are very frustrating, and definitely take away from the school work we are trying to get done. But it's worth it for me when my children are downstairs (as they did most of the day today, we took the day off school because it was a homeschool park day but unfortunately some of the kids are sick so we didn't go) playing a huge game that they made up, where each of them has a store and they buy and sell from the others. I love hearing the stories they tell, even though of course there is also fighting sometimes.
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Re: Alternatives to "Screen Time"

Post by hamilton5 » Fri Aug 21, 2015 2:27 pm

We struggle with this too, with 3 boys aged 6, 8 & 10, our oldest is the most troublesome as far as screen time goes. We have removed Wii privileges until the first snowfall this year as that was getting out of hand. During the weekdays we don't have TV unless everything gets done (school, chores, outside time,etc); but this has led to almost non-stop TV watching on weekends. I am trying to find a good balance but it is difficult. My DH wants to get rid of the TV altogether to remove the temptation and I think that may be a bad idea, our oldest has already told us he will rebel if there's no TV so we're trying to figure something else out. It's good to know that we aren't alone in this issue.

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