This Spring challenged by The Institute of Inertia in partnership with Comparethemarket.com as part of my work with them, to reduce our screen time as a family. I am not going to beat around the bush, during this wet UK winter we have all become too reliant on screens and something needed to be done.
Firstly we had to agree on some ground rules. In this case, house rules that we could all stick too. Screen time and our use of it is something I grapple with constantly and have since my boys were younger. I never left the TV on as background noise. They have always been told that screen time isn’t a right it is a privilege from day one. However, they are growing up in a household where I work online most of the time. MadDad however, doesn’t have a social presence, he doesn’t even have a Facebook account.
Setting smart screen time rules
So we sat down at the dining table and had a heated discussion on what we thought was acceptable. I was determined that our no screens at the dining table and no screens in bedrooms rule were ones that had to stay.
We talked about what was important to us and why. That we wanted quality family time and not for everyone to be sat on devices.
The boys told me that they felt that the no screens after 6pm rule needed to be extended as they were older now, especially over holiday periods.
In the end, we came up with some smart screen time rules that we agreed on and we also discussed that we would be happy to talk about altering things, as nothing is static.
Our Smart screen time rules
- Screentime is NOT private.
- No screens at meal times.
- No screens before homework.
- No screens in bedrooms.
- No screens (other than TV) after 6.30 at night.
- Phones go in the charging basket when we come in the house.
- One hour maximum screen time in one go.
My House, My Rules
These rules do not just apply to me and the kids, but also to their friends too. At the moment, they know that if they are in the house after 6pm that they tech goes into the charging hamper and this is non-negotiable. We have had children choose to leave rather than do that and that is fine by me. My house, my rules.
We have very clear no technology zones in our home. Bathrooms, bedrooms and dining areas,
We make is clear that technology is a choice, so we have other choices too such as reading, play and family time. It is not the default (for them and me) for noisy time or when I need them out of my hair!
Screens and company do not mix – now I know that they do with the boys and I am more than happy to share our wifi code with them if they agree to follow our rules, but if we have family company then the screens are OFF.
Screen time is not private. This has become even more important now that the boys have mobile phones. We have their passwords, talk about and look at the apps they are using and often discuss what is inappropriate and why. We have 100% access at all times and screens have parental controls activated.
Screen time is a privilege and as such must be earned, it is not a right. It can be and will be removed in cases of bad behavior.
So how are we doing:
The first week of the holidays we had intermittent internet due to a line fault and no satellite TV due to our box not working, so we all had no option, but to embrace our Spring resolution and drastically reduced our screen time.
The boys have been great the remaining week of the Easter Holiday. They have really reduced their time on screens. They have made the most of their friends being off and have played football, tennis and cricket for most of the days. Their screen time has massively reduced. Most days they have only taken one mobile out with them as they have been together and only used it to let me know where they were.
The first couple of days back at school have been totally screen free for the boys, which is a revelation!
My screen time has been all over the place during the holiday. I have been trying to look after the boys, the house, work, repairs and everything else. So I have resolved that next week I will turn off the PC in line with the agreement and that is OK with everyone.
I have to say that we are really finding our screen free resolution much easier to keep thanks to it being Spring. so I totally agree with Dr Thomas Webb, social psychologist and Chair of the Institute of Inertia when he said that we should set our resolutions in Spring. The lighter nights and warmer days are great for playing out in and we are more inclined to garden together and walk the dog as a family.
Share your favorite screen free family activities
What are your tips for screen free things to do as a family? I am putting together a month of screen free prompts for kids to do over a month to try and encourage them and you to ditch the screens at least for a short while.
Make sure you join me and the other bloggers taking this challenge (Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family, Donna from What the Redhead Said and Collete from Going on an Adventure) and see the small positive changes we are making that are going to help us achieve our resolutions. You can follow my progress on facebook, twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #springforward.
I like your rules and I totally agree that screen rules are necessary. Well done for sticking to them, even for visitors.
Wow thats really good to have this rule. Nowadays there are phones at dinner tables, restaurants I even went to afuneral nad some one was texting throughout.
It’s good to see how other families are handling screens and screen time. These days it has become the norm to use our screens for downtime and whilst I accept this need, it s also sad when families are sat round a table together each on their phones. My own family is as guilty of this as others, so it’s great to see how other families handle that.
My son’s school has started setting homework on the computer now which I’m furious about. He’s only in reception so I think there’s plenty of time for them to be on the computer when they’re older. This means less time for my son to go on and enjoy the things he wants to do.
It can be tough to monitor screen time especially as they get older. We struggle with Kian as all his revision seems to be online too
It’s so important to have rules outlining screen time. I hope your boys keep on spending lots of time outdoors and less time inside glued to the gadgets and games.
I love that you sat down and came up with the rules together, and they all sound very fair for everyone.
Yes I agree – I try to keep the twins screen time right down (they are only 3.5 yrs old after all!). But it is SO easy to just pop them on. Great advice xx
Those are some great rules. We generally say no screen time during the week monday – thursday and then it’s more of a treat at weekends. I really need to set better time boundries at the weekend though, it’s hard especially if I’m working as time flies by and before I know it they’ve been on their screens for too long.
I totally support you in this! People of all ages are getting obsessed with smart screens.. I’ve even seen mothers around the playground that are so into their smart phones, that they don’t see what their child is doing, where it’s going… Crazy!
I need to set some of these rules in place for me and the husband. We’ve both become so attached to our screens, it’s actually getting on my nerves.
Some great ideas here. I totally agree that screen time is a continual juggling act! My hubby and I were hit by a horrid chest infection over the Easter break so our 3 got way more screen time than they should. We have also just re-established our rules (our kids are 6, 4 and 2):
No screens before school
No leappads during the week
No technology at the dinning table
No TV before homework (but the little ones get to watch it when hubby is working so I get 1:1 with my eldest to actually do homework)
No screens at the weekend before bedrooms are tidy
We had some advice from friends with older kids not to time limit screens when the kids actually got their hands on them because it starts the power struggle of “just 5 more minutes”, ” just after this level ” etc. At the moment we rely on the weekend to provide natural time limits, such as birthday parties, swimming lessons, Church and family time. Whether or not this will have to be reviewed as they get older remains to be seen!
P.S. sorry for any typos, up in the night with Miss 2!
Thanks for sharing your rules, look forward to an update of how it’s going.
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