My digital kids have been using Game Time Cards for the last few years, and it’s been a huge, huge, HUGE help in keeping their screen time in check.
Game Time Cards allowed us to put some of the ownership of our children’s time in front of the screen on them.
The concept was simple: the kids would choose to ‘use a ticket’ at designated times to play with the LeapPad, Leapster, or Nintendo DS. We followed a set of general guidelines based on the AAP Media recommendations. It worked for us–then.
Now? With a 9-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 6-year-old, our needs are a bit different. It was time for some changes, and it was time for the kids to have more of a say in how it worked.
So we re-vamped our Game Time Cards.
I’m hoping it works. Actually, we’re all feeling pretty confident.
Here’s the skinny. . .
Screen Time Cards For Digital Kids — Easy Tool for Monitoring Screen Time:
So after the millionth weekend in a row where every other second the kids were asking to get on the touch screen, the iPad, the you name it, I nearly lost my sanity.
old cards. . . ready for an upgrade
It’s an absolutely gorgeous day outside. Go. Out. And. PLAAAAAAY. I pretty much screamed six thousand times.
But Moooooom. It’s my turn on the [insert device].
[insert kid name] has been on the [insert device] forEVER. It’s my turn!
I haven’t been on the [insert device] for even HALF the time that [insert kid name] has. It’s not FAIR!
Over. And over. And over.
So our ‘free Wii on weekends’ had somehow morphed into ‘free electronics on weekends’ which was ultimately causing our family an insane amount of stress and anxiety. We needed to reign in all in.
We sat down after dinner one night and really fleshed it all out.
We called a Family Meeting to get to the bottom of our screen time issues. And after a lot of back and forth, we came up with the following agreement and a new name. Gone are the ‘Game Time Cards’ and in are the ‘Screen Time Cards’.
Screen Time Guidelines — some new, some already established:
- Screen time starts after school–no screen time in the morning before school;
- New week start on Monday, but Mondays are completely unplugged days;
- Each child chose a card color: Maddy is green; Owen is white; Cora is purple;
- Each child has 4- 30-minute cards and 4- 15-minute cards, totaling three hours of screen time a week;
- Every week, the kids have the chance to earn two extra 30-minute cards depending on behavior and attitude that week;
- Earned cards will be placed in charts Saturday morning;
- Kids can cash in their cards whenever they want, but when they’re gone, they’re gone;
- Devices are used in living room, downstairs, but not up in bedrooms;
- Screen Time Cards can be used for the iPad, Nintendo DS, LeapPad, Wii, mobile devices, or computer.
Each child is responsible for keeping his or her own time, and it was their responsibility to be honest–or future cards would be lost.
The new screen time cards can be downloaded for your own use; just print the first page a different color for each child.
Our weeknights are so busy that we rarely turn on the television, and we often have family Wii parties and movie nights together. That screen time was fine in our books since it is together time and closely monitored.
As soon as we had the parameters down, I got to work.
I needed to create a new set-up for the cards. . .
So I cut a large envelope in half and taped it shut. . .
. . . then I added the kids’ names.
Finally, I used the cork board already in the Craft Room because it was central and easy for everyone to reach.
Cards are IN using the envelopes with the kids’ names, and they are OUT in the ‘out’ folders.
Earned cards will rest in the ‘Earned’ envelope until the weekend hits.
Is it perfect? No way. Again, it is a work in progress.
And when and if our kids get their own mobile devices, this plan will need a definite re-vamp.
We’re learning as we go, and trying our very best at the most difficult job out there. And what I know for sure is that something needed to change, and we’re hoping that this system–which Maddy, Owen, and Cora helped us design–will be best for everyone.
Our Screen Time Cards are designed with our kids’ best interest in mind, knowing that we, as parents, need to establish healthy ‘media diets’ early for our family.
On October 28, 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new statement on media consumption–one that replaces the 2001 statement (finally, right?). The recommendations for parents are:
- Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.
- Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.
- Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under 2, discourage screen media exposure.
Want more? Visit the AAP Media & Children page; the AAP Media Kit, or the 10/28/13 AAP Managing Media statement.
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