Maybe we lost our minds during the pandemic, but this year, my husband and I made a crazy parenting decision. We agreed that we would not limit our teen’s screen time this summer.
Yes, you read that right. Our kids can spend as much time as they want on their electronics.
No more nagging them to go outside or read a book. No more monitoring how much time they have been playing video games or scrolling memes on their phones.
We have three teenagers and like most other kids their age, they spend a LOT of time on their electronics. The sixteen-year-old plays online video games, the thirteen-year-old is a TikTok expert and the twelve-year-old is obsessed with Fortnite. I’m sure that many of you can relate.
In a fit of frustration or brilliance (you be the judge), we decided to completely stop measuring their screen time or putting time limits on it.
We are putting the power solely in their hands. Well, mostly. There are a couple of catches.
Don’t limit screen time – do this instead
Instead of limiting their screen time to certain hours of the day or a specific amount of time, we made a new house rule. Our teens have to spend two hours each day doing something that is completely electronics-free.
To be clear, napping doesn’t count. They can read a book, help with chores around the house, go for a walk, draw, paint or do something else creative . . . you get the idea. And if they fall short on ideas, I have a list of over 130 things they can do.
So far, our teens have embraced the idea and it is working well for our family.
Why we don’t limit screen time
- It puts them in control. Teenagers hate to be TOLD what to do. By flipping it around, they feel in control of the situation, which immediately makes it more appealing to them.
- It makes them get creative and think outside the box. For two hours each day, they have to find something to occupy themselves. I have been surprised by what they have decided to do. My daughter will read a book, make bracelets or practice soccer drills. The youngest has made his goal to master a Rubik’s Cube this summer. My oldest spends his time helping me cook or researching colleges. I have been amazed by what they come up with when I’m not telling them what to do.
- It works with their schedule. They can choose to get the two hours out of the way first thing in the morning or put it off to the end of the day. One of my kids is an early riser, but the other two like to sleep in. The two hours fit into their schedule whenever they want, instead of being forced to do it at a certain time.
- It teaches them responsibility and consequences. I put them in charge and I refuse to nag them about it. Whether or not the two hours happen depends solely on them. And if it doesn’t happen, the consequence is no electronics at all the next day. No phone, no video games and no television. That only has to happen once for them to learn to manage their time and make the two hours a priority.
Why we switched it up this year
In the past, we were big fans of limiting screen time. I didn’t want my kids glued to a phone or laptop all day. But as our kids are getting older, we are realizing that our parenting style has to change. Raising teenagers is totally different than raising toddlers and younger children.
Our job at this point is to mold them into confident, capable adults, which means they have to stand on their own two feet. Our teens are learning to make their own decisions and take more responsibility for their lives.
When my kids are in college or the workforce, I won’t be checking in on them every day to make sure they are grocery shopping, doing laundry or waking up on time for work. This is a small taste of adulthood and being responsible for yourself.
How is it working?
The kids occasionally grumble about it, but I think they secretly like the change. They enjoy being in charge of their day and not feeling like I am constantly checking up on them. And so far, no one has missed a day.
What do you think? Is this something you would be willing to try at your house? Comment below and let me know!
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