Pete Gilbert">

Screened Out

“No screens on school nights.”

It’s the newest rule around our house. Before you think I turned into the sinister dad that banned dancing in Footloose, hear me out. Screen time isn’t evil; it just needs to be used in moderation.

Our family started out allowing two 15 minute sessions of screen time per day. All was well. It became a problem when those 15 minutes turned into 30 minutes, then 45 minutes or longer.  Our kids were coming home from school, arguing who was getting what screen, and spending far too much time playing Minecraft or watching kids play with toys on You Tube. (Why kids would prefer to watch someone play with a toy rather than actually play with a toy themselves is beyond me).

Our kids weren’t interacting with each other or with me or my wife. They weren’t burning off any extra physical energy that didn’t get out of their system during their fifteen minute recess (yes, fifteen minute recess.) They were restless at bedtime, whined when we told them to get off their screens and whined again asking when they could get back on their screens.

It wasn’t working out.

Limiting screen time didn’t really help and eliminating screens altogether seemed a little unnecessary. My wife and I came up with a new plan, “No Screens on School Nights.”

In the two months since we started this new approach, it’s worked really well for our family. The kids play together more, they are more creative, less whiny and go to bed easier at night, likely because they’ve exhausted themselves with physical play and they haven’t been staring at the blue light of a screen for an hour right before bed. On the weekends, we go back to using tokens for screen time. Since our kids aren’t on screens during the week, we don’t feel bad if we let them stay on their devices a little longer on these days.

This system may not be for everyone, but if you’re frustrated with your own kids’ relationship with whatever screen they choose, a “No Screens on School Nights” policy may be something to consider for your family too.

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