How to Regulate Screen Time

Question: How do you regulate screen time?

Answer: Ah … screen time … the big elephant in the room for every homeschool parent. To do it … to not do it … how much is too much? … what about educational stuff?

Here’s what we do:
1. Each kid has certain planned learning experiences (some look like games) that are part of the regular school. These are loosely regulated. If they want to spend more time on them, I’m okay with that up to a point. Some are VERY fun, and I have some kids that will play and play all day long. Then I have to pull the plug and tell them to go do something else with their brain.

2. We watch documentaries together as part of school. The kids will sometimes choose to watch educational shows (like Cyberchase) on their own. I usually let them watch on their own when I need the younger ones to be “babysat” while I’m gone or am otherwise occupied.

3. Non-educational screen time we call recreational watching. This is HIGHLY regulated, because I want my kids to learn that technology is a tool not a toy. We don’t play any non-educational games (and we personally have decided against Minecraft … although many homeschool families use it with success … because of it’s highly addictive nature).

4. Each day, the kids have a list of things that need to be accomplished. Most is chore related, but there is also practicing instruments, daily hygiene, and school assignments. If they finish their entire list, they are rewarded with 15 minutes of “free” screen time that they can cash in after 3 pm with permission. As long as they are watching or playing approved screen content, they can use these minutes when and how they wish.

5. When kids are sick, we use screens to help pass the time. Anything done on screens before 3 pm must be educational (documentaries, educational shows, or educational games). After 3, they can transition to non-educational shows.

6. We occasionally watch a movie as a family. This happens about once a week.

About the Author ToriAnn Perkey

I'm ToriAnn Perkey. I've been homeschooling since 2004, when my oldest daughter was 3 1/2. I'm a mother, mentor, teacher, presenter, and musician. One of my favorite pastimes is learning about ... anything! Read more here.