February 20, 2013

screen time

Notice the utter lack of yellow tickets?  That's because I'm grumpy.  Poor kids.
Parents of every generation have had unique challenges.  Probably there were parents who, at one time, had to regulate their children's use of the family chariot.  "You'll either do as I say or you'll find yourself walking to school for the next month!" was probably said more than once (only in Egyptian, of course).

Alas, this is the generation of regulating screen time.  Whether you own an ipad or a Nintend DS or an XBox or a Wii or all of the above - or at least you own a home computer (except you, Kathy:) and a TV for educational movies if not also cable or dish - we are all battling the amount of time our kids spend staring at the screen.

In our home, we have started something that the Greenes learned for us at a parenting seminar (we don't sign up for parenting seminars, we just let the Greenes go to them for us and then we steal the one or two good ideas they got from being there).

Each kid gets one green ticket a day worth 20 minutes of free-time screen time.  If they make poor choices during the day, they can lose the day's ticket, or rather the ticket gets a big black X written on it.  If they make more poor choices, it is possible to lose the next day's screen time, and the next day's if necessary, and the next, and so on.  If a child maintains his or her ticket on any given day, it is possible to earn an additional yellow ticket, amounting to an extra 10 minutes of screen time that day.

Let me tell you the very best part of this new method:  my kids make poor choices on a regular basis, which means that the amount of screen time around here has been effectively hacked in half!  Woo hoo!  I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad I don't have perfect kids, or else someone would be playing Angry Birds all the time.