TRIAL: How We Are Monitoring Device Time with the Kids.
Smallest Child:- “Can I have the iPad?”
Eldest Child:- “If he has a go, that means I can have a go after him!”
Eldest Child:- “After the iPad can I go on the computer?”
Smallest Child:- “Well if he has the computer that means I can have the computer after him, because that’s not fair otherwise!
And on and on it goes, day after day, with 2 or so hours intervals.
Sometimes we say yes and sometimes we say no asking them to wait until the afternoon until their next turn.
It seems like devices are constantly on their minds, of when the next opportunity will be for them to use them. They will play for a little bit with their toys and even in the middle of playing they will put their head up and say, “Mum can I play the iPad?” And once they get it into their head, it seems that no toy will satisfy them until they get their fill of device time. Gah!
We never allow the kids to spend large chunks of time on them, though we do allow bursts of short amount of times during the day, all depends on what’s happening.
Home days are the hardest of course, and especially during school holidays (which here in Australia the kids are on 6 weeks break) where there is little in the way of routines or duties that take up a lot of their time that doesn’t include play.
After two weeks of this constant battle of saying no, making verbal restrictions, though with no clear time frames with when they could or couldn’t use them.
A little idea popped into my head and I decided to create these device passes.
I simply created a document on the computer, printed it and then laminated each pass.
If I had thought about it long enough I could of gotten the kids to make their own, paint or colour them or use stickers etc, but I just needed to get these done and printed quickly because I was going nuts with the constant requests.
And OMG the easiest and most effective thing I’ve done in a long time! ha!
This is a trial currently in our home, I can’t say how long this with be effective but it has definitely helped a lot!!
The Device Passes allows each kidlet to get two plays on a device of their choice per day. Our kids only have access to the iPad and the computer so this is what we have allowed for them.
And they have a 15 minute or a 20 minute choice each day.
Another important thing I decided to put on them are their names! So there won’t be any arguments if one goes missing, or gets mixed up with another and there can be no trading, bribing or swaps amongst sneaking siblings.
Here’s how we are using them with the kids.
- There’s only two Device Passes per child per day.
- Each pass has a choice out of two devices for them to use.
- Each pass has a different time limit. (just for a bit of variety)
- Each child has the choice of which pass and device they wish to use with their pass.
- The kids need to ask us (parent) if they are allowed to use their pass before playing the device.
- And they hand their pass to us before they start.
- We use a timer on my phone to monitor the time. We set it on a dog bark, so the kids know when they hear the dog barking, its time to get off.
- We then hold onto the pass until the next morning.
- Each child gets their pass back each morning.
- There is no swapping of Passes.
- The passes can’t be used before Breakfast or after Dinner.
- They can’t be used when eating meals or when we have visitors.
- There is no negotiation with getting more time or more passes.
- They don’t get to use the passes if they are emotional, upset, overwhelmed etc, it’s not an excuse to ‘quieten down’ the kids or to calm them during emotional outbursts.
- Device Passes are never used as rewards.
- If they don’t use both their passes for the day, it doesn’t mean that the extra pass carries onto the next day i.e. they can’t accumulate the passes.
- We don’t use this form of boundary setting with any other activity within our family, so we still use verbal no’s and negotiation for other things and so we don’t lose that form of communication and building of healthy boundaries and roles within our family unit.
Benefits we have found already in using Device Passes.
- The kids have stopped constantly asking to use the computer and iPad.
- The kids have a better sense of self-responsibility in using devices.
- I find it gives the kids a sense of empowerment as they have choices and the power to use them when they wish too, within the guidelines.
- The physical passes provides them with a tangible object that they can relate too. We found setting times for our youngest, e.g. you can only play the iPad in another 3 hours, or after lunch etc either confused him, or made him want to push the time limits to try and get the device sooner. Having two passes for him seems to help him with this.
- Helps them to monitor their own wants and provides them with having some control over their own day activities.
- Playing devices doesn’t seem at the forefront of their minds as they now know that they have them there to use when they feel like using it, rather than always trying to push the boundaries with us and negotiate constantly.
- Us parents aren’t constantly bombarded with questions of when can they use them.
- I feel like I don’t have to remember who’s had what and for how long and how many times a day they have already had it.
- The kids seem quite happy to use them!! And it seems like they take a sense of pride in using them and taking care of their passes.
- I also feel, at this stage anyway, it provides the kids with similar responsibilities that come with money management and management of exchange of what they have within their means.
Cons of the Passes
- Our youngest (5½ yr), on the first day, decided to use his pass one after the other. Even after explaining what this meant for him and that he couldn’t use any devices until the next day, he still made this choice. Although he seemed good for the rest of the day, some children may find it difficult to understand in the initial days.
- I’m not sure if I feel a little too militant doing this, but for now its working well.
We will continue to trial this little experiment with the kids and we may need to make some adjustments as challenges crop up, but for now…. its a huge reprieve from constant arguing, asking and negotiating with time on devices whilst the kids are on holidays.
Our kids are 8½ and 5½ years old, if you want to use this as an experiment in your home you may wish to adjust times etc to suit the age of your child and your personal circumstances.
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