How to Manage Summer Screen Time

We have one more week of school to go before summer break starts. I revel in not having to hustle kids out the door in the morning or ferry them to various activities in the evening. However, I dread the inevitable power struggle we seem to encounter every year when it comes to summer screen time.

I have tried various methods in the past from letting the kids self-regulate their screen time (disaster!) to requiring them to do chores to earn it (surprisingly ineffective). Then last year, I hit upon a combination method that seemed to work quite well. It is based on the following:

  • Personally, I don’t feel good about my kids jumping right out of bed and staring a screen. I also tend to think a quiet morning sets the tone for a more relaxed day. So as a result, I’ve made mornings screen-free.
  • You would think kids would naturally want to be outside, but apparently not. So that’s a requirement.
  • Same goes for reading.
  • Finally, while I want my kids to have plenty of downtime in the summer, we also all need to pitch in to make the house run smoothly.

Based on those priorities and goals, this is the system I use:

It doesn’t ask much, but it doesn’t let the kids off the hook to be completely lazy either. The assigned chore rotates weekly, and examples include cleaning the kitty litter, vacuuming the floor and scrubbing the toilets. The kids have other chores they help with during the day but only that assigned chore needs to be done before they can have their screen time.

I use this system only with my three teens for their summer screen time since I take my two little ones (ages 3 and 6) to a summer care program in the mornings while I work.

Once the clock strikes 12pm and their checklist is done, the bigger kids get one hour to themselves and them one hour in which they can play a multi-player game or watch videos together. If they want more time, I might look for bigger projects around the house that they can complete to earn more time. However, that is totally at my discretion.

One issue I did run into last year was that everyone was watching everyone else play and suddenly their two hours of screen time turned into four. This year, I’m instituting a rule that watching someone else’s screen time counts as your own.

If you’re looking for a screen time system and want to give this one a try, you can download a copy for yourself. It’s a Word document so it can be easily edited to include whatever rules or requirements work for your family.

How do you manage summer screen time in your house? Tell us in the comments below or on The Mighty Widow Facebook page.

(photo credit)