Summer Screen Time Tips + Wisdom To Help You Keep Your Peace

Summer Screen Time Tips + Wisdom To Help You Keep Your Peace

Oh, Momma.

Screentime is a touchy subject in our house.

And you're about to see why.

But first, let's touch on this...

I recently listened and read some studies that screen time for children (and adults) acts like a drug.  You get hits of dopamine each time you have screen time.  Eventually, your body says that's not enough and it desires more and more to get it's "fix". 

I listened to some teachers, behavior therapists, and speech pathologists discuss the impacts of screen time on children.  They described the scientific backing of screen time acting like a "drug".  In their experience, they were finding children would become violet when screen were not given or given in limitations.  Even more violence came when administration would take phones away for justifiable reasons.  I even watched a teacher get pepper sprayed (twice) in a video because her phone was taken away.  While this may be an extreme result, I beg you to explore the impact of screen time on your own family.

So, this is the part where I explain the impact it has on my family and how we limit it to keep peace in our home.


Television time isn't so bad.  We can monitor it, recover better from it, and overall manage it a bit better.

However, if we throw video games or iPad time into that, it becomes a conversation of addiction.  It's the gaming part of it all and constant stimulation.

I've noticed video games or handheld devices cause our children to completely change their behavior.  Their attitudes become rotten, their emotions heighten, and they can't easily control or reign it all back in.  They constantly look for that screen fix.  They just don't regulate well.


Back in December, we noticed the DRAMATIC increase in all of the above and decided to take those options away completely.  And wouldn't you know, after a short detox period, they lost most interest in it. They understood it wasn't an option to use any longer.  They became kids again who played and were creative. Their emotions were controllable and they did so much better in school.

There has been a history of learning for us since the boys were little.  We stopped setting up their DVD players in the car to entertain.  We stopped giving tablets for "educational games".  We stopped letting them watch certain tv shows.  All because we were learning how it was negatively impacting them in so many ways. 

We became the parents who didn't hand our kids a cellphone to entertain them while out at any event or while waiting for food to be served at a restaurant.  We felt in the minority there.  But, guess what happened?  Our kids learned how to behave in an environment like that.  Does that mean we never, ever offer it as an option? No, we have, but I can probably count on a single hand the number of times over the last several years.  It's extremely, extremely rare.

You see, I think, we have so much screen time that our children are forgetting how to be children and parents/adults are using screens as babysitters.  I'm not judging, but I think we can do so much better for the next generation we are raising.  I also think the example is set by us as parents.  Put our phones down.  Step away from the computers and iPads.  Turn the tv off.  This doesn't mean we can't ever pick it up, but pick it up less. 

I truly believe we've become addicted to screens and live for the hits of dopamine with every interaction and that keeps us coming back.

How many minutes do you spend on your phone or social media?  That's a good indicator of where you are currently and may help you determine where you want to go.

First, please don't think I'm talking just to YOU.  I've had these conversations all with MYSELF first.  I'm coming from a place of concern and care.  I simply just want to share the wisdom I've learned from the experiences I've had and the knowledge I've gained.  

Honestly, I want to create a wake up call, but it might be a bit harsh to call it that.


So, let's fast forward to where we are now.  It's summer break.  My kids did an amazing job with school this year.  They truly worked hard.  They had amazing feedback from their teachers.  Their hardwork showed in their report cards each 9 weeks.  My oldest received 2 end of the year awards for Leadership and A/B Honor Roll.  

As a reward, for the summer only, we decided to bring back 2 video games for them in VERY limited quantities.  They are allowed to play Mario and Mario Kart.  We wanted games that didn't increase anxiety or emotions and were less stimulating than some.

We offered video games for a week and noticed our children falling back into old patterns and it just wasn't worth all their progress being wasted.  So, we ultimately decided to put them back away.  We will periodically re-evaluate this choice. 

Then the question arises, "how do we manage screen time?" because they aren't capable at the ages of 6 and 8 years old to know their own limitations.

Here are 3 things to think about and questions to ask yourself regarding any kind of screen time:


1. Set boundaries.

What types of screen time will you allow?


2. Set time limitations.

How long will they be able to watch or play?


3. Figure out how it will be offered.

Will they be given screen time freely or will they have to earn it?


Here's how our family offers screen time...

TV is more freely given, but is at mom's discretion when to turn on and off.  They must ask to turn it on and receive approval of what to watch.  We have passwords set as part of parental control on our streaming apps.

Video Game time (when offered) is not freely given and must be earned.  It is a privilege and not a right.  It is heavily monitored and their options are very limited.  We usually set a timer for 1 hour of play.  When the timer goes off, they receive a verbal reminder to finish what they are doing and turn it off.  There's nothing worse than being in the middle of a game and not be able to save your progress, so I respect their need to do that.  It usually allows them 5ish minutes to conclude their level or progress. They appreciate that I offer it this way and respect my cue to finish up and listen VERY well to this.  STAY CONSISTENT.  So much of what we battle with our kids is not staying consistent so our kids have no idea what a real boundary is.  

iPad time is rarely given and has limited options.  We offer PBS Kids games, teach your monster to read/math, and one cooking/restaurant game they like to play.  That cooking game takes me back and is similar to one I used to play. :)

They don't use our cellphones.  The very rare instances that I recall them using my phone over the last few years was when they were very sick in the doctor's office or waiting through a long baseball game or soccer practice of their siblings.  Honestly, that may very well be the only times they've used our phones to watch a show (I could count on one hand).



Before I explain how they earn screen time, I want to say something very lovingly.  My intention of sharing about screen time is not to make you feel bad or judge you.  I want to call awareness to the amount kids are consuming and what they are consuming.  Either we disciple our kids or the world does.  Believe it or not, the type of media they consume will do it for you, if you don't.  I'm sharing my experiences and what I've learned through all of this.  So, I've been on both ends of the spectrum.  Allowing a screen to babysit my kid and now to heavy limitations of it.  Observing and making changes as I see fit for my own family. That is what I'm encouraging you to do.  Observe your own family and make any necessary changes you see fit.  This might also mean changes come often as you adjust and see what works. 

My children must earn screen time in the summer.  (There's less screen time during the school year because we simply do not have the time.  Between school, sports, and other activities-- there's not much time left to consume screens.). During the summer, they earn screen time by completing a chore chart which I recently shared about on the blog.  You can read that here.  Alongside the chores, they also must do 3 things every day before screens.
1. Read for 20 minutes
2. Play Outside
3. Compete an educational activity such as a workbook page, practice handwriting, or taking an online class offered through outschool. 
This list of things must be completed before we even entertain the idea of screen time for the day.  They are now aware of that and work each day to complete their list before coming and requesting their time.  Again, setting expectations is half the battle.  No one is begging or whining because they know exactly what is expected of them.  We must remember they are children and our job is to train them up.  

Friends, I hope this helps you keep your peace when it comes to screen time.  I might be a little stiff when it comes to screen time, but it's by experience that I've learned what's best for us.  Remember set boundaries and expectations and stick to them! Pray about it all and see where the Lord leads you on your own family's screen time.

Pro Tip:  If your kid says they are bored, offer them two options-- A chore or creative play on their own.  They'll quickly make a choice. ;)

You are so loved!


Praying for you,

-Cara, The Quiver Full Momma


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