With the abundance of technology today, it’s inevitable that kids of all ages have pretty much-unlimited access… all day, every day. And, let’s be honest, taking that away would inhibit kids from not only fitting in, but more importantly, it would take away many of the resources kids today use to learn and grow. (After all, I am blessed to work for a Special Education Tutoring company geared toward virtual learning, so I, without a doubt, embrace, and love, the opportunities technology creates!)
But, recently, I have had many questions from parents (that truly appreciate technology) about just how much “tech time” is okay and at what point can/should it be limited?
Now, these parents are not talking about stopping their child from using technology to read and learn! They are referring to gaming, social media and simply just “playing around.” A suggestion I have given when these questions have come up is that perhaps the focus needs to be finding a balance between using technology to learn and using technology as a leisure activity.
If you’re finding yourself battling this, too, read on for some suggestions that may help your family find a balance between life with, and (gulp) without, technology.
3 Simple Tips To Manager Your Child’s Tech Time;
1. Earn time For Doing Chores – One way to find a balance is to have kids “earn” their tech time. You can write basic household chores (clean room, empty dishwasher, feed the family pets, sweep the patio vacuum, etc.) on ping-pong balls, along with how much tech time each chore is worth. Place all of the balls in a bucket, and make a bucket with each child’s name on it. As children complete chores, they put the ping pong balls into their bucket and can cash in their earned “tech time.” You can decide whether kids can cash in their tech time whenever they want, or if you want to designate a time each day when they sit down and earn this time.
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2. Tech/Work Time Swap– Set a time that kids need to do school work (write a paragraph, read a book, complete math practice, etc.) Make it clear what the expectations are during this time, both concerning quantity and quality. If kids work for a certain amount of time, they can earn the same amount of screen time. Or, if needed, perhaps tech time earned at a fraction of the work time. (Example: If a kid works for 30 minutes on school work, then he/she can earn 15 minutes of tech time. In other words, every 30 minutes of school work earns 15 minutes of tech time. Use whatever amount of minutes are appropriate for your child/work for your family, just make sure you keep the ratio close enough that it motivates kids to do school work!)
3. Outside Play for Screen Play – One of the biggest concerns I have heard from parents when they inquire about “too much tech time,” is that they are disappointed by how much technology takes away from simply playing outdoors and interacting with friends and siblings.
Here’s a solution: If kids play outside with their friends, each other or maybe even just creatively by themselves, they can swap that time for tech time later at night, when it’s more difficult to play outside, anyway. Again, you can use the method above to determine how to earn tech time for playing outside.
Hopefully, these tips will help you manage the struggle that has become “how much technology is too much?”
No matter what you do to set this up in your family, two of the keys to any of these suggestions are to;
- Make sure kids understand the expectations.
- Make it concrete.
Make sure you explain the “new” idea to kids and make them a part of it. Have them come up with chores to complete and work together to determine how much tech time is earned for each one.
To make it concrete, have a list (it can be as simple as a clipboard on the fridge) and a place to record how much tech time is earned, and what is done to earn that time. Doing this will alleviate the battle of just how much tech time kids get. And when they are earning that tech time, set a timer. Make it fun and even use one of the free timers available online or a get a fun timer from the store. Communicate the expectations, stick with it, and before you know it, you and your family will be enjoying the best of both words: the one with technology and the “old” one, without!
What have you done to help limit tech time in your household?
~ Diana Chase