Self-Regulating Screen Time


“Can I watch a show?”
“Can I watch another show?”
“After this, can I watch a show?”
“When we get home, can I watch a show?”

On repeat. And then some more. The constant asking, then begging, for more shows was quickly making me want to remove all screens from our house. Then a friend with older kids told us about her solution to this problem. We had tried a similar solution before but we missed a key part of it.

On school days, no shows. At all. On weekends (or sick days and holidays), there is no limit to shows at all. This second part is what we missed. We tried to regulate weekends, but were inconsistent. There was complaining. And so much begging.

For now, the new plan is working. When she asks during the week (though I don’t think she asked at all last week), we remind her of the free-for-all upcoming weekend and the asking stops.

I don’t want screen time to be one of those things held away and prized. I don’t want the limits to be so strict that she obsesses about it. I want her to learn to regulate her own intake, though I recognize that she’s four and her ability to do this is limited.

During the week, iPad time is offered freely if she asks for it, but she hardly ever does. On the weekends, she watches shows in the morning and before dinner, but mostly, we’re out doing stuff. Or we have friends over. Or we’re outside or working on projects.

It’s working. For now. For us.

Do you have screen time limitations for yourself or your family? What works (or doesn’t work) for you?

Author: Casey

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