Screen Time

Arguing with a 6 year old about how she needs to stop watching YouTube how-to videos and get off her iPad at 11pm is not very pleasant.

The only rational argument she made is that the iPad is hers. This is true. She bought it with her own money she had been saving for some time.


Curses. Why did I let her save for an iPad…. what was I thinking? But then again, I don’t believe in denying children things. Well maybe cocaine. I would deny them cocaine. Are iPads the same as cocaine? Maybe.

The morning after the wild late night fight over a little lit screen I reported to Ella that she had lost the use of the iPad for 7 days. This was met with some intense protest, but she settled into the idea by mid morning. In fact I had pretty much canceled all TV or any form of screen for 7 days.

The girls responded really well to this. They started helping around the house more, they slept better and overall the emotions were more of an even keel.

Ella worked extra hard during her boycott to earn 2 days off her sentence so got her iPad back this past Friday. Overall it hasn’t been too bad since she got it back and we haven’t had any arguments over it yet.

I guess if I was on top of things I would  put in really strict rules about only 30 minutes of screen time after their chores and homework are done. What happens for me is I get so caught up with handling the baby or making dinner or any of the other million things I have going on and before I know it it’s been 2 hours of either PlayDoh how-tos or Netflix.

How do you guys deal with screen time in your house? Are your children pretty grooved into the fact they have limited time? Do you not monitor it at all? What systems do you have in place? I need some help figuring out a good balance here.


This post was sponsored by McAfee. They have a new, inexpensive all inclusive package which protects several of your devices from all that bad stuff that the internet can bring (you know, viruses and identity theft)  as well as a system that monitors and restricts what websites can be accessed and limit the amount of internet time allowed. It will even back up all your content.

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Despite this being a sponsored post (thanks McAfee!) all my opinions and the argument I had with Ella are unfortunately my own.

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19 responses

  1. I bought Jeremy an iPad when he was four (pre-school graduation present). We did a lot of mommy & me time on the iPad. Now that he’s older (7 years old), he doesn’t really pick up the iPads at all anymore . He has an iPad 2 and an iPad 3. He received an iPod touch for his 7th birthday, and he LOVES it. He does a lot of Google searches, he’s into researching a lot of different subjects, which I think is amazing. There were times when he would be big-eyed playing around with a spider man app for hours, but now that I think about it, I didn’t set any guidelines. But if he gets in trouble at school, the Apple products are the first to go.

  2. I try to limit my 4 year old’s screen time but run into the same problem you do. Her school has a roll of 2 hours total screen time per week and I try to keep as close to that as I can but often fail. I definitely notice her attitude is way worse when she has too much screen time.

  3. My step-daughter bought her iPod touch with her own money, but under the agreement that we utterly and completely control the monitoring and use of it. We have strict rules in place that chores, homework, etc. need to be done before screen time, and then she only gets to play for a limited time. It generally works. Recently, though, she has been sneaking it and lying about it, so we have started contending with that. She loses all screen privileges for a day or a week, depending on the infraction. It’s like a drug!

    I also do not like her on YouTube at all without adult supervision.

    • Alex, I wonder if I have the settings on the ipad set for content allowed if that applies to YouTube? Will it control that?

  4. I am really strict with my kids iPhones and iPads.We block their use of apps from my phone meaning they literally can’t use any apps at all..unless we let them and we make them do chores and homework first.

  5. I am horrible about it, I think Crispin has watched an hour of Lego reviews tonight alone. I just get caught up and don’t pay attention to how long he has been watching it. In fact, I need to log off and go turn the ipad off and put him to bed….

  6. My daughter and I share our iPad. This has handled a lot of the screen time issues that I think other people have run into. We also have strict limits on how much she can be on the screen. I would like to say the limits always get followed but they don’t. But when they don’t get followed there are consequences. And I don’t let my daughter use the internet without asking and without telling me where she is going and what she is google-ing. She is a pretty responsible kid, so she will follow those rules because she understands the reason for the rules. But its definitely tricky sometimes.

  7. We definitely notice our moods are better when we limit screen time. Making it something that is only attained by chores and finished homework is a great ideal. It’s easier with older kids – I just send them outside for 15 minutes and then they come in and do HW. Ella sounds just like Kais… he will fight to the death to watch One. More. Show ;)

  8. Yes, it’s hers, but household rules are yours. Even theaters can make you turn off your phone or suffer the consequences. What if only you had the password and she had to do a certain amount of chores/homework before you logged her on? I think there are even apps that will put timers on screen time and turn it off when she reaches that time. If you had such a good, observable result from removing the screens from the girls, you could point that out and maybe they’d go along more easily with limits.

  9. When the boys were little there were no ipads yet but there were computer games that were played online and of course, TV. They had no TV or screens at all during the week. They used to sneak to the library during the week to play RuneScape on the free computers there but once home – no screens. I wouldn’t even let them have a play station or a nintendo or any of that stuff. It can get sooo out of hand. So in our house – I just nixed it. They are older as you know – men in fact. They turned out great. I have no idea of no screens during the week contributed to their greatness or not LOL! Ella is looking extra beautiful these days :)

  10. what if you set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes and keep it in your pocket while you’re doing all the other things….the agreement could be that when the bell goes off, she has to physically bring and hand you the ipad. If she doesn’t do this….she loses it for the next day. (make sure she can’t get on any other devices)

  11. We just banished screentime before school and life is better. One of my kids wakes up at 6 am and we don’t have to leave the house until 7.45 so he was getting a solid hour of iPad in the morning. One thought I have for you is that even though it’s her iPad, it’s your job to enforce her healthy choices (that’s what I tell my kids) which includes going to bed at 8:30, eating dinner without a screen, using eyeballs for other things, getting exercise. They are allowed an hour of screens after homework is done.

    • I have loved all the ideas and different views in these comments! Whitney, it is probably good that there is no ipad before school. I like the hour after homework idea.

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