Technology, time limits and getting it right for our kids

Do your kids get angry when you ask them to get off the computer, turn off the xbox, give someone else a turn of the Wii or put the ipod away?

Last week I was guest posting over at Planning with Kids about 8 things parents should know about technology and parenting. Many of the comments pointed toward a frustration by parents over the amount of time kids were online and the trouble they had in enforcing rules regarding the use of technology. Or overuse more to the point!

Here are a few pointers to help you take back control and help ensure your kids have a greater chance of being able to regulate their own behavior and time management as they grow up surrounded by the distractions of technology.

Start early  From the moment your little one can swipe an ipad make sure they know there are limits to its use. We want to be able to take things away without a fight every time.  And whilst you will more than likely get one the first few times you interrupt their extremely important, almost at my highest score game, they will learn. Like all aspects of parenting, the earlier you start getting them used to the boundaries, the greater control you will both have over their behaviour.

Follow through with threats when rules are broken and arguments keep going. We recently banned our boys from xbox games for 2 weeks due to fights over whose turn it was and the whinging about not wanting to get off when we asked them too. There was no negotiation at this point. You as a parent do have the control over what gets used in your house and for how long. They may cry and argue and tell you ‘you’re the meanest mum in the world’……..but they will get over it. And so will you!

Time Limits: Stick to time limits and have them in place even when they are playing nicely and helping you get other things done! When we re-introduced the xbox after a ban it came back with much stricter rules. We now have a limit of 30 minutes for the games each on a week night. We discussed what we thought was fair (we, the parents, having the final say of course) and ultimately they were happy to comply as they had just experienced what it was like to have no access at all.

Role Model: This is difficult when for many of us our business and livelihood revolve around the work we do on a computer and online. But it doesn’t mean our kids cant see us having our own boundaries over computer use etc. I now have stricter timelines for myself on when I can work and when I need to switch off to give something else (running a household) my full attention.

When we did ban the xbox for those weeks we were pleasantly surprised at some of the other ways they found to amuse themselves. They did bring out the old playing cards and went riding on their scooters more. Now with more limited time back on the xbox, they are more easily reverting to these other activites when the technology gets turned off.

Like everything with parenting you need to make your decisions represent your family values and what will work for your situation. Your rules and boundaries, what you accept and don’t accept must be a reflection of how you want your family life to look. Remember too that the short term pain of enforcing some of these boundaries will always lead to the longer term gain…which for all of us should be a household of more joy and less stress.

 Do you struggle to get your kids off their games and computers? And what rules do you have in place in your family regarding time limits and technology?

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. kirri

    In our home, I find the most important thing is for me to be mindful of what is actually going on. My girls don’t expect to ‘game’ or jump on the laptop every day and only need to be told once that they have 5 mins left to finish up….It’s when I get caught up in making dinner or my own work that I can forget that Ms 8 has actually been trawling the internet for 30 minutes and that what started out as a Barbie game has now somehow changed to scantily clad teens kissing their boyfriends!

    1. Martine

      Ah yes Kirri, i think we have all been guilty of ‘forgetting’ that they are even online!

  2. Yvette @ DTlilsquirts

    I think thats great advice. My lil ones are too young for xbox games but we do limit tv and apps to a minimum and gets turned off when they misbehave.

    a #teamIBOT member has popped over to say Hello 🙂

    1. Martine

      Great to get in early Yvette with the time limits.As long as they know to respect them =now it will be much easier later. 🙂

  3. PlanningQueen

    Some fab points Martine. I have found technology use in my kids is very dependant upon personality as well. I have two that without limits would sit and play at a screen all day. The others get bored with it and would naturally take themselves off after about 30 minutes.

    (I am one that needs time limits too!)

    1. Martine

      Yes absolutely Nicole. Mine may have different preferences for what they are doing with technology, but so far they are all enjoying it in some form!

  4. carmen

    It’s always been an ongoing tussle in our household but limiting time was successful with my eldest. Then he turned 16 and it was all out the window.
    The younger three know we follow through though!

    1. Martine

      Absolutely we need to keep the control whilst we can. It is very difficult to police what the older kids are doing on technology as it can be taken with them wherever they go. That is why i still believe that starting young may hopefully help them to better regulate their behaviour themselves later on. 🙂

  5. Laura

    i like your advice . There should be fun in life but there should be limits for everything too ..

  6. Jess

    I really like this. My little two love the iPad, and my youngest will try and abscond with it on a regular basis! Having said that, I realised the other day I was frustrated because I wanted to use it, and they were playing on it, and then I thought ‘whose iPad is it?’ and gave the five minute warning. It’s just common sense I think.

    1. Martine

      Absolutely common sense must prevail, but sometimes it is difficult. Warnings are also a great way to prepare them so you don’t get the constant “but I’m in the middle of a game!”

    2. Ashley

      I definitely agree! I think that parents should just choose how much their kids should have.

  7. Shirley

    Oh yes, it was a struggle to get my kids off the computer and the iPad. What we did is that we set time limits for computer/game time during weekdays (right after they finish their homework). Great advice.

    1. Martine

      Thanks Shirley. Ipads etc are also difficult as they are so portable and sometimes we don’t even realise they are on them. Good idea to make them finish their homework first too.

  8. Katy

    I was actually finding it hard in getting my kids into limiting their technology time. Thank you very much for your pieces of advice. What’s the best time limit for the kids to play their gadgets?


    1. Martine

      Choosing time limits can vary greatly between the ages of the children, your family situation and the personality of the child. I chose 30 minutes for my boys as I felt that was long enough for them to have a good go, whilst still allowing enough time for them to do other things and not get too ‘addicted’ to whatever they are playing. As we have more children too we need to think about letting everyone have a turn. Decide what you think will work for your family and see how you go. As long as they are getting the message that they have to be able to turn off their technology without a fight then you will be doing the right thing.

  9. Gracie

    The children in the United States of America, need to study more. Because China’s students have a higher learning capability than the U.S. students. This is because children here need to also study when they get home, and not play with their cellphones and video games. Knowledge is power, can’t let other students out-smart them in their own country.

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