First, a quick update to let all of you who have been on the fence about signing up for Simplicity Parenting know that I’ve decided to condense the curriculum into just five workshops, starting in February. This will make them cost less money and be less of a time commitment. Check out the details on my webpage: Portland Simplicity Parenting Workshops

Like many families, screen time has been a real challenge for us. In the early years we learned the hard way that any more than an hour of cartoons would somehow melt our son’s brain. Thankfully, we learned the first time, so we never experienced the same post-cartoon-meltdown-syndrome with our daughter. And it does amaze me how much they learn from Wild Kratz or Word Girl.

Yet, our second grade son has recently become pretty brazen about trying to sneak computer time. Even though I try to remember to log off, I often forget, only to find him under his covers with the laptop. Finally, we ended up taking away screen time for the rest of month. But we knew that was only a stop gap measure, and we needed to make our expectations and limits much clearer.

So, over the winter break, we drafted up a Family Screen Time Policy.

We didn’t reinvent the wheel, and the policy is pretty much a summary of what we’ve already been doing with some small tweaks for clarity. Every family is going to have their own limits, and like most of the ideas on this article about how to set screen limits (We use a timer already…I think I’ll have to start using the Clean = Screen idea). Even though we debated a bit and will likely tweak some more, it feels good to have something down on paper (actually posted inside our kitchen cabinet and in their bedroom).

Your child will likely want to compare with other kids. Believe me, its frustrating to have a friend come over and brag about how much screen time they get at home. Speaking of which, we don’t try to limit screen time on play dates. I don’t feel comfortable imposing our parenting “policies” on other parents. If it became a problem, I’d figure a way to address it, but I figure the benefits of learning how to engage socially likely outweigh. Plus, the kids are likely to get bored and want to play something else.

Interestingly, our daughter shows very little interest in her own screen time. As we had our son read the full policy, she never asked “what about my screen time?!” No doubt that day will come, but for now she’s thrilled to get a Friday Night Family Movie and cartoons in the morning.

We know that this so-called policy will certainly change over time, especially as homework begins to require research. But it still feels good to have an agreed upon starting place that feels reasonable for our kids as well as us.

If you’re not already inspired to draft up your own family screen time policy, check out these infographics on TodaysMama that show how much screen time kids get and alternative ideas to keep them active (kids 8-10 get 6 hours a day!)

What kind of screen time limits/allowances do you have in place? How have they evolved?


@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together