I think we can all remember some of the unrealistic ideals we had when becoming parents. For most people, one of those included screen time and how we would never let our children watch more than 30 mins a day of telly or that they would never own a tablet or gaming console. However, the reality is that this is the technology era and we need to conform in one way or another. It’s now a rarity to find a school that doesn’t use tech in one way or another, so preparing out kids to be able to keep up in that part of their schooling might be essential.
That’s not to say we should let them rein free with technology, rather that we should teach them a good balance of technology to nature and exercise. We can even bring the education further and have them earn their screen time like pocket money. This will help teach them that they need to earn luxuries in the real world and take responsibility for keeping the housework in order. Below you will see how we made technology work for our family with screen time earning.
Screen Time Earning
In our household, we keep a chart to track points for screen time. For each job around the house that the children do, they earn 5 points. These points turn into screen time minutes once they have banked 30 points or more. For bigger jobs like doing their own washing or cleaning out the car (under supervision), they earn 10 points.
The rule is that they can only cash in their screen time minutes when they’ve banked at least 30 points (minutes) or more and if their bedroom is tidy. We don’t include cleaning their bedrooms in the points system because it’s not something they would generally earn pocket money for doing. It’s more of an expectation in our house, but yours might be different!
We like to sometimes throw in some further incentives to keep them motivated and driven to reach their own goals. Things like if they go straight to sleep that night they can earn an extra 5 points. Our children generally don’t ever sleep past 5:30am still, so their father came up with a weekend bonus incentive as well. If they sleep in (or stay quietly in their beds) past 7am then they get a free 30 min pass.
Docking for bad behaviour
The answer to your question is yes, they can lose points for naughty or disrespectful behaviour. We think this teaches them that there are consequences for things they do wrong and in turn they lose hard-earned points.
Does it work?
Screen time earning for us, has reduced the amount of time our children spend on devices, taught them that they need to work for luxuries in life and responsibility for their chores. We also feel it has encouraged our children to offer help to family members, even if they might not end up earning points. This is because they can see how much their contribution helps everyone else.
- Install a kids mode app on tablets to be able to block internet, apps and other parts on the device while your children play.
- Install only educational games onto the devices.
- Our children are young, so we don’t include the TV in the screen time rewards yet. We do however monitor the use on the TV make ensure it is balanced with a healthy dose of outside play and indoor crafts etc.
- Set a timer on your phone to keep track of cashed in minutes and warn your child when they have 5 minutes left. Then again at 3, and 2 minutes. This will teach them a sense of time management and reduce any tantrums when their screen time is finished.
- Some people may want to change the points earned per job. You may prefer to have it set as 1 point per job or even 10 per job. That decision is up to you but remember to make it achievable for your children.
- Set out the rules beforehand, write them down to stick on the wall and explain in detail so your children are on board.
- Always monitor children on devices!