Managing Screen Time For Kids


The tech world is here and it’s going to stay–despite thoughts from parents that it might just be passing fad.  My husband and I resisted as long as we could getting our kids any sort of electronic devices, but when the schools starting investing in devices for the classrooms, we realized this was part of our kids’ culture and we could no longer deny it.

As most parents have discovered, tablets and phones have their benefits and can be wonderful tools for the kids.  I love how my kids can research information whether it’s about how many different species of penguins there are in the world (who knew there were 17 different types?) or the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys in 1974 (yes, we have a sports history buff in our house!)  It’s awesome to watch the kids be able to independently seek out information and know how to utilize their resources.

photo 3But along with technology comes the negative aspects…the overuse of electronics, the lack of social interaction, the threat of online stalkers, the loss of privacy, etc.  Even though there are apps we can install on the devices to protect the kids and control some of the problems, it still takes good old fashioned parenting to really manage the devices.  When electronics are managed well, they then become positive additions to a household.  When I begin saying things like: “I want to throw those tablets out the window,” I know I haven’t been doing my job managing the kids and their tablets very well.  Once I re-establish our set rules and reel everyone back in, life purrs along and the tablets are a welcome addition to our lives.

I’m always reading new ways of managing the kids’ tablet use since there are lots of different opinions and new ideas out there.   I recently read about a mom who allows unlimited usage.  This is a mom blogger who I respect and admire so I was stunned to hear she allowed this!  But when I went further into her explanation, I started to laugh and loved her idea.  They can have unlimited usage AFTER they have eaten, done homework, done chores, read for 45 minutes, played something outside and done something creative (legos, art project, etc).  What she found after some experimenting was the kids would get “distracted” with their reading or playing and eventually not have time for the tablets.   I like her approach and may integrate this philosophy into my summer management program!

photo 2With school back in session, we are switching from our summer rules to the school year rules.  Our approach to screen time this school year is this:

1) No screentime (unless it’s for homework) until 6pm.  This allows them to do homework, chores, play other games and read.

2) No devices in bedrooms or at the dinner table.  This is a standing rule in our house ALL the time.  Bedtime is bedtime and dinner time is family time!  No devices allowed…period!

3) We have Tablet Free Days…usually Tuesdays and Thursdays.  No tablets all day.  I notice my kids are different creatures when they use tablets.  I call it “Tablet Head”. They are rummy, disconnected and overstimulated.  They get this way whether they are on it for 15 minutes or 60 minutes.  So, our remedy for this is to have days when they are free of devices and can just focus on the here and now.   I love those days!

4) No tablet use 30 minutes before school.   Our kids get themselves up early for a variety of reasons: to take care of livestock, to read, to play Legos, to study or finish homework or to play on their tablets.  We are fine with that but tablets have to be off 30 minutes before school starts–this allows them to decompress from the Tablet World and gear their brains up for school.

photo 15) Weekends are less restrictive.  Mostly because usually we are doing something so their tablet time is limited anyway.  Our only restriction is no tablets after 3pm on Sunday.  Again, this helps remedy the Tablet Head Syndrome and gives us time as a family together without distraction.

6) The tablets can be decommissioned at any time based on disrespect for the rules, poor grades or missed homework and/or other behavior issues.   We have the right to power them down at any time.

These are our guidelines.  They aren’t perfect and sometimes we get lazy and don’t enforce them.  Sometimes if we notice the rules aren’t working, we will talk with the kids and may adjust the rules so we have workable and useable guidelines.  What I do like is when the kids manage each other…”Gus, it’s 3pm on Sunday. Time to turn off your tablet!” or “Hey Ethan, it’s Tuesday! No tablets!” Now, they don’t always respond the best to their brothers telling them these things BUT I do love that they are attentive to the rules and keep each other honest!

What are some ways you manage screen time at your house?  I always love to hear ways parents supervise device usage. It’s helpful to share ideas!  Especially in this new world of technology!  We are all learning how to keep our kids healthy and safe yet still offer the world to them through technology.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.  Read more of Erin’s blogs about homesteading, farming, homemaking and other fun things at

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