Friday, May 4, 2012

Screen Time

This seems to be a hot parenting topic, this screen time thing.

Honestly, I don't really think it's a big deal. But... I also am kinda in love with what we've worked out in regards to Jena's screen time. So here ya go.



Jena wasn't permitted to so much as look at a television until she was around 9 months old. If her head turned towards the flickering lights & sounds, we actually turned her head away & distracted her with a toy. Or a smile. Distraction is easy at that age.

That being said, the TV is on constantly at our house. I hate for it to be too quiet. But what this means is that it's not a thing we stare at and zombie out in front of. It's just background.

Which might explain why Jena has never had a thing for television. Oh, sure, she likes it. Has her favorite shows (currently Blue's Clues & Barney, but they change frequently). But... she might make it thru one entire 20 minute program a day actually watching the entire thing. More often than not she finds something she'd rather do, like play with the dogs, read, or draw. Or whatever.

The point being she doesn't spend much time actually watching television.

In fact, I can always tell when she isn't feeling well, or is really super-tired, because that is about the only time she'll zone out in front of the TV. And quite frankly, if that's the case, I don't really care.

Computer & SmartPhone (mine. Droid):

When Jena completes a chore or qualifying good deed (there's a matrix posted in the kitchen - things like helping with the chickens, good listening, picking up toys, etc), she earns a sticker for the matrix, and a purple ticket.

Purple tickets can be turned in for 15 minutes of computer or phone time.

Once she earns 6 stickers for a given item, she gets a pink ticket, which can be turned in for 30 minutes of computer or phone time, or the opportunity to buy a small toy at the store.

That is the only way she gets computer or phone time. Period.

Both are educational games only.
Computer is PBS, Sesame Street, Nick Jr, or StarFall games.
Phone is puzzle/reading or connect-the-dots/reading game that I've downloaded. Or scrolling thru my pictures & videos. Or taking new pictures. Or accidentally calling her aunt. Whatever.

Some days (like today), she has 3 purple and 1 pink ticket she can turn it. If she chose to turn them all in today, that would be quite a bit of screen time.

Other days, she has no tickets to turn in.

Oh, and tickets can also be taken away for bad behavior (mostly hitting mommy or lying).


Sure, I've been tempted to hand her my phone when I really just want need her to be quiet and/or sit still for JUST ONE MINUTE PLEASE!

But I know if I give in on that, then the reward system will never work.

And yes, there are days when I stretch that 15 or 30 minute boundary. Like when she was sick, and wanted to lounge around, and she sheepishly handed me a purple ticket with eyes that begged for computer time. Yeah, she got an hour that day.

But sick kids turn this mean mommy into a big softie.

So there's our screen time system.

What are your solutions to the screen time dilemma?


Amber said...

Great post!

I don't have many hard and fast rules about amount of time, but I do have strict rules about content.

As far as time, it's more a time of day thing.

Auburn can watch in the morning when she's waking up and I'm running around trying to get ready for work and for the nanny - usually about 30 -40min. But it almost always something like Fresh beat band, or Barney that gets her up and moving, not leaves her staring at the screen like a zombie.

I also turn on it on while I'm trying to cook dinner, but she usually isn't into it and may pay attention for a few minutes then run off and play something else.

Like you, if she's sick, the thing can stay on all day, I don't care.

Now, for content. I do not allow ANY adult show, not even the news, to be on while the kids are awake. In this way, I can be careful about what they are absorbing and exposed to and make sure they understand what they are seeing.

Of course this is easier because we no longer have cable..... Instead, we stream netflix and hulu through our little Roku device. We get our news online.

The biggest perk to not having cable? Auburn doesn't ask for things she see on TV. This has made dealing with food allergies (and money problems) much much much easier. I know I can't hold it off forever, but just a little bit is a blessing!!

Anyway - Props to you and Firegirl on your ticket system. Auburn isn't quite ready to understand a system like that. I've tried in the past and it didn't work.

Melissa said...

My kids are so much older - technically they aren't really even kids anymore - so my take on it is different.
If I had little kids in this day and age I know I'd have to be more cautious and watchful about the time(s) they spent with electronics.

But when mine were little, we didn't have much technology; a VCR player, cassette tapes, and the first Nintendo game system.

We only had local tv stations, and they only played cartoons/kids shows early in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon.
I encouraged mine to watch shows like Sesame Street and Barney because they learned a lot from them. The shows made them interested in learning by making it fun.
But even the cartoons had moral stories, and were cute.
I don't like a lot of the cartoons that came later like Catdog, Angry Beavers, 2 Stupid Dogs, etc.

The video games were cartoonish and fun, not like ones they have nowadays. I think the most violent one they had back then was Duck Hunt, lol.
I really think playing video games helped with my youngest son's motor skills with his Mild CP. He still can't write well or tie his shoes tight, but it'd probably be even worse if it weren't video game controllers.

We didn't have a computer or the internet for a long time, either. Eventually when we did, the boys didn't go on the internet, but had games to play like Lego and Hot Wheels and Carmen Sandiego and Roller Coaster.

I think it was school that eventually introduced them to the internet, assigning research tasks and such, and chatting with their friends (and others) online.

That probably marked the end of the good progress I thought technology was making.
After that came internet cheating, online pedophiles, the Jerry Springer show, stupid cartoons, violent video games, ADHD, and so on.

Whew, I'm so glad I don't have little kids in this day and age.
Because pretty obviously a whole lot of people aren't limiting what they're kids watching on tv or seeing on the internet, the way they act!

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