The Moms' Network question: How do you monitor screen time?


“I do not allow TV during the school week. I do, however, allow 30 minutes of video games if there is bad weather after school or when all homework is done. The weekend is full, so usually we watch a movie at night, but I am more lax on the weekend. Especially, Saturday a.m. The TV is never on when we get up in the morning.” 

—Catherine, seven children

“We have two kids, 5 and 2. They each get to pick two shows per day on weekends only, half an hour per show. They occasionally watch on weekdays during the winter months, if we are too cooped up inside. Some evenings, if I have to pay close attention to making dinner and can’t focus on homework with my 5 year old, I’ll have her do ‘Starfall’ on the computer.”

— Danielle, two children

“Our only TV is in our family room. That way I know what is going on at all times. My boys get one hour on the TV — whether it is a show or a game it’s one hour unless we’re doing family movie night. As far as the computer, I have a laptop that stays locked up unless I am able to sit next to my child the whole time.”

— Kara, two children

“I have two children, ages 11 and 10. I don’t have a problem with screen time during the spring, summer or fall seasons due to the sports my children are involved with. However, during the winter months when they are taking a break from sports I let my children know ahead of time how much they are allowed. Then, 30 minutes before, I ask them, ‘would you like to sleep now or in 10 minutes?’ Then, when 10 minutes have passed I say it is time to go to bed, dinner or whatever continues after screen time. If they make a fuss out of it I use Love and Logic phrases (‘I love you too much to argue’ or ‘what a bummer’). On the screen time note, I would like to add that my children do not have tablets, smartphones or TVs in their room, or their own laptop. If they need to use my laptop for school I allow them to use it only for that purpose.”

— Cresencia, two children

“At this point in our life I have come to the realization that when my children watch too much TV or play too many computer games they are much worse in their behavior. What we currently do is to say that they are not allowed to watch TV all week long until Friday after school until dinner, and then Saturday morning until about 10 a.m. The only day they can play computer games is Friday after school. They also get to watch a little TV while I teach piano lessons on Tuesday after school. We watch a family movie on Friday nights, too. It may seem a little harsh to some, but the improvement in the behavior of my children was well worth it. We set them down and explained why we were doing it and how too much TV and too many computer games can be bad for them and their brains and the happiness of our entire family.”

— Megan, four children

“When my 21⁄2-year-old son wants to watch something, he gets three blocks from his ‘TV cup.’ For every 10 minutes he watches, he puts one block in the cup. When I have three blocks in my cup, he’s all done watching TV for the day! It puts him ‘in charge’ of his TV time and gives him a tangible way of understanding the limits.”

— Katie, two children


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