Managing Technology With Kids

Managing Technology With Kids

I received a number of comments and emails about how I limit technology with our kids after last week’s post on managing homework.

I had this post listed in my plan already, as we have changed our approach to technology time since I wrote about it last. (We group activities like TV watching, Wii games, online time, iPod time etc all under the banner of technology time.)

You can find my earlier posts on technology / TV time here:

This post is not about saying there one right way to manage technology with kids, but simply sharing what we do now. As I stated at the beginning, this system is new this year for us and I am sure we will change again as the kids grow and circumstances change.

Different amounts for different ages

As the kids have grown older, I realised that I needed to be more flexible with the limit I had set on how much technology time they had.

Technology becomes a greater issue for older kids – it often becomes a form of communication and socialisation, so this needs to be considered as part of the equation. The two older boys have more time across the week than their younger siblings.

The three year old watches the least as we generally have technology time when he is having his afternoon naps. So technology time in our house looks like this:

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Master 3.5NilNilNilNil1.5 hours0.5 hours
0.5 hours
Master 6NilNilNilNil1.5 hours
1.5 hours during day

0.5 hours after bath
1.5 hours during day

0.5 hours after bath
Miss 8NilNilNilNil1.5 hours1.5 hours during day

0.5 hours after bath
1.5 hours during day

0.5 hours after bath
Master 11NilNilNilNil1.5 hours1.5 hours during day

0.5 hours after bath
1.5 hours during day

0.5 hours after shower
Master 1345 mins45 mins45 mins45 mins 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours

Kids need to share and negotiate

On the days the younger three have access to technology, they take turn at who chooses what they want to do. The child can choose to do Wii, computer or a DVD for example. Once they have chosen the other two need to work out together what they will do. This can often take some time and test some patience, but I think it is important for them to learn to negotiate and share.

Flexibility

Flexibility with the technology roster needs to be present from both the kids and myself. Football finals for example, changes the when and the how long they will watch TV for. If we are out and about, then there may not be time for technology on a particular day and the kids need to accept that.

Getting agreement with older kids

Managing Technology With Kids
Up until June this year, the 13 year old was on the same style of access as the younger kids – no technology Mon – Thu. But after a month or so of whining about it, I told him to go away and write down what he thought would be a better arrangement.

The photo above is what he settled on and I could live with that. We then went on to write down a number of conditions, like homework being completed first. If homework takes him to past the point where he has no time for technology, it is not banked up, it is simply missed for the evening. Exam time is also treated differently.

We also wrote in consequences for breaches of the agreement. If he sneaks his iPod to bed for example, the following day there will no technology at all.

I would really prefer the other system where he only had technology on Fri, Sat, Sun, but the 13 year old put up persuasive arguments and I could see how much it meant to him.

[EDIT Jan 2016 – We now manage techno differently with the older kids, which you can read about here – Managing technology with teenagers]

We both signed this and it is hung on the clip on the fridge for reference. While not perfect, the system is working relatively well.

Would love to hear how you manage technology with kids at your house!

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for posting on this Nic. It is certainly one of the issues for parents today. I’ve just bought a NY Times Bestseller subtitled “Why games make us better and how they can change the world” and am looking forward to reading it. Anyhow technology time is massively different in our house these days. For our daughter it is a lifeline to the outside world and, as she is currently too unwell to read for more than 5 minutes,something she can do to occupy herself. Still it stresses me out but I’m trying not to let it! We have fun playing MarioKart together when she feels well enough and I’m grateful for the Wii! My actual biggest concern for both my children and technology these days, is the damage to their eyes and ears! We have no set rules except after 4pm on holidays and no more than an hour for my son weekdays (he is at a no homework primary as you know) I would be being much stricter with my daughter if she were well…but actually she would probably monitor it well herself if she had other things to do. Sorry for the long comment..such an interesting subject with so many aspects to it! i think the schedule you’ve worked out is great.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your experience Annie. I really do think technology can be a positive part of kids’s lives, but for some kids in particular (like my eldest!) it can be addictive, so setting boundaries is working for us.

      Hope your gorgeous girl is doing ok!

  2. Marianne says

    I have 4 children, aged 1-10. Since my older kids started school, I have always had a rule of no tv (or computers or games etc) Monday-Thursday. But on Friday night we used to have family movie night (but now my kids are st Greek school, so thats out too now). Saturday mornings they are allowed to watch tv (the only morning they’re allowed). Sunday afternoon they’re allowed for a bit if we are home. Occasionally I’ll let them watch tv other times, but instantly regret it bc my kids get grumpy and start fighting over whose choice it is etc.
    Because it’s a rule I’ve had since my eldest was 5 yo, they don’t question it. Only occasionally they get annoyed if kids at school are talking about certain shows, like MasterChef or The Voice or something, but then we just watch the episodes online on the weekend.
    I’m always so inspired by your blog, you are so organised (and calm!) , and I’m trying hard to put into place some of your routines. Thanks for all the tips and hints!!

    • says

      Thanks Marianne! i think you made a great point about starting our restricting viewing when they are young. We have done this with our kids and they know that is just the was it is in our house. They would never dream of just walking in to the lounge room at turning the TV on without asking.

      Have a great week end!

  3. says

    We’ve always limited our media time (what we call it in our home) but my son REALLY loves it so we tend to use it as a reward. If he gets ready quickly in the mornings, he generally takes his computer as his reward. However unless otherwise ‘negotiated’ it has to be educational. It works really well for us and boy is he quick in the mornings!

    • says

      Thanks for sharing what works in your house. I think it really helps others to see what goes on with other families and they can try out things themselves to see what works.

  4. Jane says

    This is a topic I am still working on with our kids. We are a bit inconsistent at the moment especially on weekends. One of the challenges I have is being in agreement with hubby about what limits should be in place. Especially as he is a big technology fan and is not as strict as what I would be. Sometimes I let it go and sometimes I stand up for my point of view. Does watching what Dad’s interested in with him (of course,appropriate content) count towards technology time?

    • says

      My husband often says sport on TV doesn’t count! I do however think it counts if it isn’t a special game like finals etc, as there is always sport on. If it is just a regular game of football the kids watch with dad, then we count it as there technology time, but there are no hard and fast rules with this, it is what you think works best for your family.

  5. Rebecca says

    Do you have extra time to do homework on the computer or Ipad games for learning eg times tables or is this included in your child allocated time for technology or TV time?

  6. says

    I love that you shared this.. and that your system has changed over the years.

    Things have changed in our house over the years too and are about to change again as my girls are getting ipod touches for their birthday (well they are being given half the amount and have saved up the rest) and we are still talking and thinking about how and when they will be used.

    Currently my three big kids get 30 minutes each of computer, wii or ipad time twice a week. They are allowed to watch 20 minutes of TV each night between bath and dinner… if they are organised and ready in time. This was initially more TV than I was comfortable with, but it actually works really well as it’s a few minutes downtime at a difficult time of night… and most nights they opt to keep playing and the TV doesn’t go on at all, only on those nights when we all need a break which I think is an ok use of TV.

    But now with the coming of the ipods… I am unsure. But I really like the idea to ask them how much and how often they should use them and get them to write it down.. am totally doing that!! Thanks

  7. says

    We are gradually writing down our feeling towards media in general. We revise it a lot and discuss it as parents. As the boys are getting older we talk more about why we do what we do as a family. We also are careful to say what we do doesn’t mean everyone should do. It’s hard but totally worth it. I wrote two recent post about it- Our media diet and Our media diet 2.

  8. Kelly says

    I sometimes find tv time hard to manage in our house, because they would love to have abc 2 running all day! We have 4 kids aged 6,4 2 and 3 months. We currently allow the older 2 to watch tv in the morning until 7.15am as they get up around 6am and we find it buys us some much needed extra sleep some mornings as it is something they can do quietly without waking the rest of the house. We also let them have 30 min technology time after dinner where the older 2 will use the computor sometimes if they don’t watch tv. Our toddler is close to turning 3 and is wanting his ‘techno time’ as well now like his sisters but I worry how young is too young, though it can bring some quiet and calm to the house after bath time, especially helpful when my hubby is away working and I’m on my own.

  9. Kreeftje says

    Hi all,

    I read all these comments with interest and am amazed to find no stories that despite the set rules the gremlins will sneak extra time.

    I have 4 kids (14, 13, 11 and 8) and for as long as we all can remember, we have no nerd time (as in computer or playstation) until Friday after 3 and in weekends after 3. Boy those days were good. Then the DS arrived which was great to have when we went on long travels or to family with no play stations or the like. But being a handy little device the sneakiness arrived too as you can take it to bed and play till you fall asleep. That’s how I found out! Clever kids., so we added another rule to the list as in no nerding in bed. Then of course the iPod becam the in thing to have and my bigger two worked hard for it and bought it with their hard earned money. Same rule applies again. Now my bigger two are generally good and hand it in, but it’s my number 3 that is the cheeky one with no mercy. He will go to extreme length to get is iPod and play on it if I take it of him he will continue to wake and wander through the house to see where I put it and try to sneak it back. Its quite funny writing it down like this, but it has in fact become a great issue as even though he s not allowed on he will and continues to do so regardless of the consequences and punishments… Talk about being addicted! Unfortunatly my number 4 takes it all in and copies number 3 behaviour and tries to do the same even though he knows it’s not wanted and not allowed. It amazes me that their life have become so focussed on this tiny device that they seem unable to go without. Don’t get me wrong I don’t let them and am not giving in, but boy they don’t seem to get it and that truly makes me wonder. Why go through this endless hassle and upset it feels like it’s a game to them but with a serious undertone. Thank god I don’t mind being the mean mother in this but can’t wait for the day this penny drops and they let it go. I do think technology is part of their lives now especially with schools doing more and more homework on computer etc, and therefor they are surrounded with it continuesly, but sometimes I wonder where it will end as everything is now at the touch of a finger and right in front of their noses. It is becoming quite a short sited society.

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing your story Kreeftje. In my post you will note that we listed consequences for sneaking time on technology. Even with these consequences the eldest still does sneak on. He has been caught many times and I am sure there are many times he had got away with it.

      He takes his phone and ipod to school for “music” on the train, but needs to hand them over as soon as he is home. I am constantly called “tight” by my 13 year old and like you I wear that.

      The others haven’t started sneaking yet, but I am sure it will happen at some stage. Some more than others. I think how much technology kids like is a personality thing and some are more addicted than others. My 13 year old we will always have to keep an eye on as we will with our 6 year old too as I see similar tendencies in him as well.

      Nic

  10. says

    Interesting post, I’ve found during school holidays the technology time has been steadily increasing, especially as the girls struggle to decompress after socialising and the changes in routine holidays bring. It is a tricky balancing act.