Why I Stopped Saying “No” to Screen Time    
Val Curtis
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Say what?! Yes, it’s true.

Do you get tired of saying, “NO”? I do. I get fed up until I find myself shrieking, “No screen time for a week!” and then I realize my kids aren’t the only ones being punished.

Screenless weeks always happen during the most inopportune times. I‘ll need to work or take a call or make dinner or occupy one child while the other is having a play date with a friend OR a child will be home sick. You always need something once it is taken away.

Why do I cringe every single time they ask and why does it usually result in a freakout? Perhaps it’s due to something I call “Broken Record Syndrome”.

It sounds a little something like this:

Child: Can I play on your iPad?

Me: No

Child: Can I play on your phone?

Me: No

Child: Can I play on the laptop?

Me: No

Child: Can I play on my LeapPad?

Me: No

Child: Can I play on Dad’s iPad?

Me: Noooooooooo! That’s it, no screen time for a week. Go outside!

I hit a mental wall. BAM.

Whenever I hit a wall and realize something is driving me batty (like hearing “I’m bored”), it is time to come up with a new strategy. I turn my hat backward and look at the situation in detail; it’s time to come up with a new plan.

1. What’s the problem? I hate saying, “NO” to screen time all of the time.

2. Why? I want them to be outside whenever possible (not inside driving me nuts).

3. Details: Is ALL screen time bad? No. How much should be allowed? An hour a day, max – ok, most days. When should it be allowed? When chores and homework are done and outside play isn’t an option. Do they need to earn it all of the time? Usually, yes; but not always.

4. Am I over reacting too quickly because this is a hot button? Yes, which means something needs to change.

The topic of going outside came up twice and I realized that I would usually follow up “NO!” with “Go outside!”

I came up with a solution. I ask the kids what color the sky is.

For real. If it is blue, they have to go outside. If it is gray, they can be inside and we will discuss their options. And now they know.

(Partially because I have this AWESOME printable!)

They ask, “Can I play with ___”. I follow up with, “What color is the sky?” They either head outside or get the follow-up, “Are your chores and homework done?” If everything is done, I ask them what they want to do on the device in question. Also, we live in the PNW and once October hits, there are more gray days than blue, so they REALLY need to take advantage of every outdoor moment they can get.

Back to the devices. There are five major reasons I am ok with my kids having a little fun on the tablets and phones:

  1. Our kids need to be tech savvy – many assessments are given on tablets or desktop computers and our kids need to be able to read and comprehend content that they read on a screen. To completely cut them off is actually doing them a disservice.
  2. There are a TON of great, educational apps –   Math, spelling, reading, writing, science, coding, geography, foreign languages are all there and more! Pick a topic and there is an app for it. (See list at the end of this post.)
  3. YouTube – It’s entertaining, but it is also today’s “Tiger Beat”. Using some simple tricks, you can make it a safe place for your kid to peruse and enjoy a little down time.
  4. An outlet for creativity – Stop animation, creating music, art, and movies. The creative options are endless, accessible and you will be amazed at what your kids can create!
  5. Moderation – Take something away forever and they want it more. We are all like that, right? As soon as something isn’t forbidden, it’s easier to take it or leave it.

However, once they are on, how do you keep them from STAYING on? How do you set limits?

Our Pact

That’s where OurPact comes in.

OurPact empowers parents to guide their children through the balanced use of technology. It is a leading parental control app for iPhones, iPads, and iPods that makes it easy for you to set limits on how much time your children are spending on their mobile devices. Create schedules, block all Internet and app use at a moment’s notice or reward them with the allowance feature.

They are here to help you balance the risks and rewards of iOS and Android technology for your family, with ease…and it is FREE. Download it now.

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You can set a timer from your device or you can have “screen time” windows in your child’s day. It’s pretty cool.

They even have these helpful hints like this Family Contract where you can discuss using the privilege of mobile device ownership as a vehicle for trust-building within your family.

And that is why we are partnering up with them this month because they are wonderful and keep providing great resources for us.

You see, parenthood is like a the TV reality show Survivor. We just need to outwit, outsmart and outlast our kids and OurPact is helping us keep our upper hand on the game.

Now go outside before I vote you off the island!


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Photo Credit: Girl on Tablet on BigStock Photo

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This post was written by Val Curtis exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Val is the Editor-in-chief of BonBon Break. A former middle school science/math/tech teacher, she put her career on hold to be at home with her son and daughter on an island in the Pacific Northwest. When Val breaks away from her keyboard, she enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, camping, photography, tidepooling, sailing and potlucks. She gets a kick out of combing the web for recipes and making them gluten free so she can share meals with her husband, family and friends. She is a tech-gadget geek who is poked fun at, but it doesn’t bother her a bit. Combining her love of photography, tech and graphics to create new, fun content for BonBon Break quenches her “thirst” for integrated technology.