My kids love screen time. And who can blame them? There are limitless shows on Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, Xfinity, etc. There are countless games on their iPads. Even their parents love those games. Then you’ve got today’s game consoles like the Xbox or Nintendo Switch and one realizes that it’s not even their fault: kids today could fill a lifetime with screen time and come nowhere close to experiencing it all.
In our family, we don’t demonize screen time. We use it as a tool. Since our kids’ primary objective seems to be to maximize it, we just make that the carrot. Our hope of course is that someday they realize that screen time isn’t everything and each day we try to remind them of this. But hey, they’re still kids after all and in a way it’s refreshing to see someone simply want what they want.
During the school year, screen time is pretty manageable since most of the days are filled with school related activities. But the summer can get pretty challenging and as I write this in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s damn near impossible for a parent to effectively manage while still trying to maintain one’s own life. We’ve struggled with this and after only a week, decided we needed some serious structure.
Many years ago I saw something posted somewhere (and I’m sorry to the person who posted it because I cannot give you credit) where the parent had given their kids a laundry list of admittedly A LOT of chores and other creative and constructive things to do and after that, they could have as much screen time as they wanted. I’m not sure how serious it was, but it planted the seed for the program my wife and I put together last week for our own family. So far it seems to be working pretty well. The kids know that all they have to do is accomplish these things and they can have their screens.
When I mentioned this to one of my best friends, he immediately asked me to share it with him. When my wife mentioned it to her best friends, they too asked for it. Sensing a trend here, I’ve decided to just post it online here for anyone to use. And as a bonus, I added a list of ideas for things to do that aren’t screen in the second tab 🙂 You can print directly from Google Sheets or download and edit to suit your needs.
Let me know in the comments if this worked for you and/or if you made some meaningful successful changes. Happy parenting!