The Outer Limits

“Mom, may I play on iPad now?” “You know the rules. Have you completed everything on the list?”

Yeah… You read that right. I have a list. It’s not a long list. It’s not a particularly hard list. But, it’s a list nonetheless. You see, I want my kids to understand something important. Technology is not the be-all and end-all of life. Using devices is fun, absolutely, but responsibility and activity really ought to come first.

How do we determine when our kids can use a device? I’m glad you asked!

Setting Boundaries

The_Outer_LimitsSurprisingly, there are only a few things our kids need to get out-of-the-way before they can get on a device. The list is short, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the list is fast. First things first, our kids need to get their day started off on the right foot. No devices before breakfast, not even on weekends. Second, during the week, our kids need to finish their learning activities. No games until they’ve added a few ‘wrinkles to their brains’. (Love that phrase my sister-in-law uses!) Lastly, our kiddos need to handle chores. We all need to contribute to the functioning of the household, no matter how small the task, before we dig out those devices.

Once our kids are allowed to get on iPads or computers, there are also a few restrictions. I love for them to have fun, but spending all afternoon playing is just a bit too much for this mama. So, they are allowed to play for one hour and then they must find something else to occupy their time. They are encouraged to go outside, play with one another, start a project, or just relax. Just because we have the blessing of a device, doesn’t mean we have to sit in front of it every waking moment.

How Much Time is Too Much Time?

If you’re looking for a fast, easy answer, you’ve come to the wrong place. Honestly, this is not a decision anyone can make on your family’s behalf. Through prayer and study of your children you will have a better understanding of how much time is too much time and when to pull the plug (literally).

I would recommend monitoring their screen time though. As in all things, moderation is key. You can have too much of a good thing! (laughing) One key factor is how our children start behaving in their free time. If they become unable to entertain themselves outside of devices, they are spending too much time on it. If their behavior starts to suffer from usage (throwing tantrums when asked to get off, for example), this is also an indication that we might need to start cutting back or cutting off entirely for a period of time.

Understanding the Difference

There is a significant difference between being on a device for gaming purposes and learning purposes. Yes, both require sitting in front of a screen, but one adds significantly more of those wrinkles than the other. (Yes, I know. Arguments could be made that Minecraft and the like are actually helping our children to learn; I won’t debate that point. However, games like Crossy Road? Just… don’t.)

Our kids are allowed one hour of screen time for gaming purposes. Learning, generally speaking, has no limits. However, I reserve the right to kick my kiddos off all technology and make them get fresh air. After all, one can only sit in front of a glowing screen for so long before the brain starts to fizzle and die.

If At First You Are Confused…

… Go and ask Pop! (laughing) As much as I’d love to tell you we always abide by the above routine, that would be a lie. There are days our routine is completely thrown off; days when we take field trips; days when we have hospital visits; and days when they want more than one turn on a device. When mom doesn’t know what to say or, frankly, doesn’t know what to do, we ask Pop. He always has an answer!

Let me be honest. If I could own the newest Apple device the minute it comes on the market, I would. I like technology. I use technology. All…the…time. However, I also understand that sitting in front of this screen all day everyday is a bad idea. Our bodies need sunshine, exercise, food, fellowship, and rest. Technology is a good thing, as long as we exercise self-control and use moderation. (sigh) Sometimes that is soooo hard, isn’t it? Especially when you find a new app you just can’t wait to use!

🔔Time to Chime In: In your opinion, how much time is too much time?


5 thoughts on “The Outer Limits

  1. The timing of this is funny. This past weekend my hubby and I gave our boys our old iPhones set up only as iPods. They only have access to music and some games. As boys, highly visual by nature, it’s been interesting to watch them grapple with time management. They get sucked into a vortex of sorts! They’re only allowed 30 min of mindless gaming on weekdays. I also encourage them to play games with each other, play outside or express their creativity (writing, art). The whole thing has made me more aware of how much time I spend on technology as well. Funny how parenting has the boomerang effect 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is true that it makes you aware of your time spent in front of the screen when you are limiting your kid’s time in front of a screen. So, in our house I do allow the kids “free time” (which usually means Curious George, they are 5 and 2 years old) after they are dressed and finished with morning routine before we start our day. This typically equates to about 30 minutes. My thinking, is that I like to spend time on the computer in the morning — why can’t they get the same privilege?
    I have battled with the screen time issue and for us it works to “get it out of the way.” Of course, we can allow learning games or other TV later in the day as time permits. But generally there is not a set time frame– it’s usually “alright, you’ve been on the computer for a long time” or “dinner will be ready soon, time to be finished.”
    Also, screen time is a privilege. Like you, if responsibilities, or lists, are not met then no screen time. But now that it’s BEAUTIFUL outside screen time isn’t on my kids’ priority list.

    Liked by 1 person

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