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Managing Summer Screen Time: Part Two

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Julie Taylor
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For my children, summer break is here. Along with eating endless watermelon, living in swimsuits, and camping in the backyard comes implementing new daily routines. And since I’m aware that we’re living in 2021, I created a plan to show my kids how technology fits into our schedule.  

In our first post about Managing Summer Screen Time, we dove into managing our children’s screen time, and the difference between using technology as a tool versus a passive source of entertainment. If you missed our first post, take a moment to read about current screen time challenges, like how social media and smartphones make parenting harder. You can also find suggestions on how to embrace the new kids tech era in the healthiest possible way. 

Today, we’ll focus on specific strategies to help you create a screen time plan for your family.

As a parent, I know first-hand how a screen-time plan needs to be unique. At 8- and 12-years-old, my kids need something specific to each of their age groups, roles they play in the household, and their individual capabilities and needs. 

I created plans for each of them, and I’m leaning on their Pinwheel phones to keep my plans in action every day. 

Under Morning Routines, I set up two new checklists: 

“Get ready for the day”

  • Feed the cat
  • Take your medicine
  • Eat breakfast
  • Brush your teeth
  • Wash your face
  • Get dressed
  • Comb your hair

“Before screen time”

  • Read for 20 minutes
  • Play outside
  • Walk the dog
  • 10 minute tidy-up
  • Do one chore

Then I nested my children's new routines under 'modes' inside the Caregiver Portal. I assigned time blocks, and chose which apps and contacts were available on my kids Pinwheel phones during those times. Last, I cloned the days so they could keep a consistent schedule (and make it easy on me as a busy mom!).

Before they complete their checklists, my kids are allowed to engage in good quality screen time---like Khan Academy or Chess for Kids. Once they complete their checklists, they’re allowed to have passive screen time---like play video games and watch TV. 

I chose this approach because it allows me to have a better relationship with my kids. Their daily expectations are clearly laid out, and I don’t need to constantly remind them to stay on track. Every parent or caregiver is different, and with that in mind, I wanted to reach out to learn how other parents and caregivers are using Pinwheel phones for their children.

Here’s How Other Real Parents are Managing Screen Time:

Piggy Bank Method

My kids get “coins” that represent 20-30 minutes of passive screen time at the beginning of each week. They can cash in anytime as long as their chores are done and it’s not during dinner. The kids like it because they feel like they have control and get to make decisions. We like it because we don't have to argue about screen time anymore. Win-win! - Submitted by Whitney

Bingo!

My kids get 30 minutes of free screen time as a base each day. Their bingo cards have squares that ask them to read for 30 minutes, do math for 30 minutes, play outside for an hour, and clean their rooms. When they get five in a row, or Bingo, they get another 30 minutes of passive screen time. - Submitted by Rachel

Checklist Before Tech

I put a list up on the fridge with all the things they need to do before they can have fun screen time. I find that when they start their day with activities and outside play, they naturally gravitate toward less passive screen time. - Submitted by Mackenzie

1,000 Hours Outside Challenge

The entire purpose of 1000 Hours Outside is to attempt to match nature time with screen time. If kids can consume media through screens 1,200 hours a year on average that means the time is there and at least some of it can and should be shifted towards a more productive and healthy outcome! - Submitted by Dawn

Avoiding the Summer Slide

I will keep the kids busy with "homework" until about noon. Then it’s lunch, pool and free time on electronics before dinner. In the summer, they get about 2 hours of free time on electronics. - Submitted by Sandy

Informal Approach

I work from home and I’m outnumbered by kids. Once the kids finish their chores and spend time outside, they can have screen time so that I can work. - Submitted by Jennifer

Formal Approach

I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband is a teacher, so we have summers free with our kids. As a baseline, we keep our school year rules of academic screen time twice a week on weekdays. On weekends, they have extra screen time, and the content is their choice. - Submitted by Michelle

Device Limitations, Safe-Apps, and New Toys

My daughter's Pinwheel phone has limited stuff on it, and she mostly uses it for phone and text. She and her brother have to earn time to play games on tablets, which have parental control apps. Luckily, they love playing outside, and we just got them brand new scooters. - Submitted by Susan

Summer Screen Time Summary:

Keep in mind that not all technology is equal, so rewards systems or limiting screen time should apply to poor quality or what is called "passive screen time".  Why not take some time today to talk to your kids and make a plan together for using technology in a healthy way?

Let’s embrace technology, avoid generalizing “screen time” as all bad (because screen time can be a healthy tool), and create plans on the Pinwheel Caregiver Portal that fit our unique children. Together with Pinwheel, you can set your kids up for a great summer break!

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI), Read Part 1 here:  https://blog.pinwheel.com/managing-summer-screen-time-healthy-tech-habits-pinwheel-kids-phone-part-one


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