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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mom Tip--Limiting Screens

Media calls out to us constantly, it seems. How can we prevent our kids from becoming zombies in front of the TV or computer screen?

We don't turn on the computer or TV until schoolwork is done, because it is too much of a distraction (the younger ones can't even do computer until the oldest is done with school). I have preset icons on the desktop that they can click on to go straight to their websites, and have re-named them simply (Dora, Elmo, Starfall, Boz, etc.) so they can navigate it themselves. I set a timer so they can each take a turn. They don't even ask for the computer every day, actually. To be honest, I need to be better about limiting myself, especially on the computer!!

Instead of TV, they get to watch 1 DVD a day (they DO ask for this!), and they have to agree on which one. I've found this also helps with the "gimmies", because they aren't seeing commercials. They very rarely watch cartoons on TV (maybe 1-2 Saturdays a month). This makes it easier to patrol what they are watching.

I know other families use a ticket system, where kids can earn and buy screen time (either computer or TV), and can lose their tickets as well (as a consequence for misbehavior). So far we haven't needed to use tickets, but it seems like it could be a good system. For older kids, it could teach them self-control, that if they use all their tickets for the week by Wednesday, that's it. One suggestion I read was earning extra tickets by being active or exercising. I thought that was a good idea, even if your child just runs around the house 15 times!

What system does your family use to limit screen time? Any ideas to share? Please leave a comment!


Anonymous said...

We gave away our TV several years ago. Now we can watch DVD's or online shows (like on youtube), and the kids are commercial-free. Plus it is so much easier to make sure what comes out of the screen is worthwhile.

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