Monday 29 May 2017

Our family and screen time

With the half term holiday underway and the long summer holiday rapidly approaching I've been thinking again about how much screen time my children have. Their screen time mainly consists of playing Minecraft and watching videos about Minecraft on YouTube on their tablets, often with a film night at the weekends. They each have their own tablet but we look after them and they ask to use them, again they have to ask to use our PCs for Minecraft or other games. But we are pretty relaxed about allowing them.

During the school week I don't let them have any screen time after school until 5pm, which ties in nicely with them giving me some peace and quiet to make dinner and lunchboxes. On a night when we are home straight from school this gives them enough time for homework, piano practice for Harry, and some time for them to play. Several nights we are out, like for swimming lessons, and on those days they don't get any Minecraft time. Then they are allowed to watch their tablets while they eat their dinner. I know it's a bad habit, but it doesn't make any difference to the speed at which they eat their dinner, and they are usually so tired that they aren't in the mood to make any sort of conversation while they eat!

Child playing Minecraft on the computer

Mornings are another time that they are allowed their tablets. They both wake up so early and always have done, so they can come into us half an hour before they need to get up to claim their tablets, and it gives Ram and I the chance to wake up gradually.

At the weekends and during school holidays they do have more screen time than I'd like. If we don't have anywhere to be, the morning tablet-in-bed-slot is extended for as long as they are happy to wait until breakfast (although to be fair it's usually only a short while as Mia in particular can't go long without food!). Then if we are going to be at home most of the day, after breakfast I try to get them to have a break for an hour or so before letting them get straight on and play Minecraft.

We have a set up where we have two PCs that are linked, so they can both play together in the same game. They really love it, and when they aren't able to play they are often talking together about what they are going to do next time they have chance. They usually play really nicely together, but sometimes there can be disagreements and arguing, at which point it is swiftly turned off!

I must admit I find it difficult to criticise too much screen time when my husband and I are worse at using our phones ourselves. So I try very hard to show them other things that can be done instead of staring at a screen - for example by sitting and reading a book, doing some crochet or doing a jigsaw. To be fair they are generally very good when I say that screen time is up and they need to find something else to do, and any initial protest usually dies down quite quickly.

I'd love to know how other people manage screen time with young children?


  1. It sounds like you've got a good balance. The reality is, kids do spend a lot of time on screens these days and there's no harm in some time on them. It's great that thy don't switch them on until 5pm. That used to be my rule, but it seems to have gone out of the window! I must admit I'm struggling a bit with screen time at the moment. My boys in particular are spending far too long on them and my rules don't work any more.

    1. I can see that the rules are going to change as they get older, especially when they get their own phones and they aren't as compliant any more! It does worry me when it comes to doing their homework, I know how easily distracted I get when I'm trying to sit at the computer and Facebook is just a click away!

  2. It is so hard to find the right balance with this issue. I have teens and do I really know when they are using screen time for studies or for fun? We have to be vigilant. And always encourage them to go outdoors.


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