Limiting Screen Time This Summer

Technology is something kids love. It’s certainly something that they can have too much of. During the regular school year, their time is more limited than in the summer. With summer, and the endless days, kids often turn to their tablets, phones, gaming systems, and computers to keep themselves entertained and occupied. This can mean hours and hours of time on the technology instead of doing other things, such as being active or creative.

In the days leading up to summer vacation for schools, I’ve seen two ways suggested to provide technology limitations to children during the summer. Both of these methods are rather interesting, though one limits the technology more than the other. Each method does try to give children the best of both worlds. How families choose to utilize the suggestions are entirely up to them.

The first suggestion I have seen many times floating around on Facebook. Chances are, you might have seen it as well. It looks something like this:

image

The idea is to encourage children to do other things that don’t involve the screen before allowing them unlimited time on iPad or whatever other technology tool might be in the household. Children have a list of options to peruse and mom, dad, or whoever the caretaker is must approve completion of the activity. Once enough activities have been completed, then the child is able to access technology as long as they wish. For some households, this is a great option. For others, it’s still too much.

The second idea I found online in my research. I don’t have a picture for this one, but I can describe the idea. This one is a lot stricter in limiting technology time. Each week on Sunday children receive 14 technology tickets. Each ticket is worth 30 minutes of technology time (can be modified to suit parent wishes). These tickets must last them all week in terms of technology use. Parents do have final say on if a ticket can be used or not. Once all 14 tickets are used up, then the child must wait until the start of the next week to get more tickets. Some sites also suggested keeping extra tickets on hand for a reward.

The reason I researched the second suggestion, and remembered the first is because my mother came to me last week and asked me for some ideas on limiting technology use at her daycare in the summer. She runs the daycare out of her home, and it’s run on an open schedule. She does have some scheduled activities, but often it’s free play for the children just as if they were home. During the school year she only has children under 5, so it’s very easy to limit their technology use. They have a little bit of TV in the morning, and they earn a little time on the iPad after lunch if they’ve had a good day so far. They also get some TV after nap and afternoon snack.

With summer daycare, things are slightly different. There are now school age children in attendance the entire day, and they have been used to structure all day long from school, including limited technology time. Now that school is over, many of them want to be on technology devices often, watch TV, or ask for the iPad to play on. This doesn’t include the devices they bring of their own. The last thing mom wants is for them to constantly ask for technology all day long. She also doesn’t want the younger daycare kids exposed to so much screen time. She knows that if one of the older kids has a device, chances are a younger child will be watching them on it.

Cue research and discussion. In the end, we have decided it would be best to combine both of the above ideas for her school-aged daycare kids. This seemed to be the best way to encourage play, encourage helping with the younger children at daycare, and limiting screen time.

The Basic Plan: Upon arrival each day, each school-aged kid is given a technology ticket for the day. The ticket is worth 30 minutes of technology time. Each kid has the opportunity to earn a second technology ticket for the day by choosing 3 activities from a provided list. The list is quite lengthy in options. Each chosen option has to be completed for a period of 20 minutes. Obviously the kids can do more than 3 activities, but they won’t earn more than 1 ticket. The kids have the opportunity to use their tickets at any point during the day, as long as it’s approved by mom.

Materials Needed:

-Tickets

-Alternative Option: chart/dry erase board chart

-Activity List

-Timers

The materials above are the necessities. Since tickets outside of a family environment might get hectic, another alternative is to use a chart to track each child’s activity and their ticket use. A sample chart image is below:

image

Would you like a blank copy of this chart to use? Get the file here!

Rules for the System:

There are only a few simple rules to follow:

– Educational computer time is not included. There
may be times where educational programs, such as Khan Academy would be used
with the kids

-Tickets cannot be taken away for bad behavior.
Once a ticket is earned, it’s earned.

-Only two tickets total will be earned a day (1
given on arrival).

-Tickets cannot be saved up. They must be used
that day or forfeited.

Examples from the
Activity List:

These are just some of the activities that were listed on the Activity List that mom and I created. An Activity List should be created with the needs of the children or family in mind.

-Puzzles

-Building (Legos, erector set, Lincoln Logs)

-Teach Younger Kids- numbers, letters, tracing
names/letters, etc

-Draw/Color

-Read a book

-Read to a younger kid

-Play with baby dolls

-Play a card or board game

The list even includes some more educational choices in case the kids are wanting something different:

-Answer writing prompt with paragraph & illustration

– Design a board game

-Write a story

This program will start today with her daycare, and from there we’ll see how it goes. Like any plan or system, it takes putting it into action to work out the kinks and bugs. If you do decide to use this plan, let me know how it worked, and provide any feedback you can think of. I will be providing periodic updates on it this summer.

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