In my world, screen time is a privilege, not a right. I started out by limiting screen time for my kids to one hour and asking them to do chores and homework before playing games or scrolling social media.

As they’ve gotten older, we’ve had to renegotiate the rules.

(Is’t that what growing up is all about–renegotiating the rules?)

My 14yo wanted to check social media in the morning to hear all the latest. I get that. It’s part of preparing for her world. She now gets more time online and can access the internet before her responsibilities are done.

My 12yo and 10yo got together and proposed that they’d like to create a screen time bank. There are days they use no screens and days they want to indulge. Is it really fair that they lose their time if they don’t use it that day? If they “banked” their one hour allotment every day and withdrew time as they used it, it would feel fair to them.

Good persuasion skills…

I got them to agree that the time banked would disappear every Saturday night. (I had visions of them tallying their time bank and telling me “We get THREE DAYS of screen time! Woohoo!”)

We decided to try it for a week.

It was the honor system. They each created a template to keep track of their time played. I knew it was accurate because I use an app to cut off the internet when their time is over. On days that they asked for my time, I saw them writing down their “withdrawal”.

Six months later, their system is still working. They are diligent about tracking their time and adding up their bank.

I try to keep it to myself that they’re learning something bigger than banking screen time.

They’re learning:

  • Negotiation skills
  • That their opinions matter
  • That they can influence their world
  • Persuasion skills
  • Organization skills when they make their template
  • Personal responsibility in filling out their form
  • Saving and spending. Delaying rewards. Planning ahead.

What are your goals in limiting screen time and how do you get your kids involved in the process? Leave a comment and let me know.

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