The EASY way to limit screen time

My kids LOVE screen time. If given the choice, they would spend every waking moment playing Minecraft, LEGOS® Star Wars™ app, or watching Netflix until their eyeballs rotted out of their heads.

Obviously, as their mother, I try to prevent this from happening.

Now, I’m not opposed to ALL screen time. We live in a digital age and I want my children to be digitally literate, but I also don’t want their legs to atrophy or backs to develop humps.

I’ve tried and tried and tried several techniques to limit screen time. When Griffin was little, we used a clothespin technique, which worked really well when all we had to deal with was the television.

Since then, we’ve added an iPad, a Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition, and a LeapPad. (In my defense, we won the LeapPad and my husband purchased the Kindle Fire!) So, now I’m not trying to keep them from ONE screen. I’m trying to keep them from FOUR screens. 

The Kindle Fire has built-in screen time limits, but that doesn’t help much considering there are other options once that shuts down. I tried an app that used a timer to set daily limits and even let them “earn” more time by completing chores. The only problem with that is I had to constantly monitor them to make sure the timer was running, which was a total pain in the butt.

The same goes for all the screen time tokens, popsicle sticks, charts, etc. 


Several years ago, I read a completely BRILLIANT idea for limiting screen time. This mother told her son she would only charge the iPad every three days. If he used all the battery the first day, that was his problem. 

I LOVED this concept.

So, I tried it with the iPad because that was Griffin’s tablet of choice. Well, I could never remember what day we were on and he would often sneak the charger into a dark corner and play with the tablet plugged in. OR he would just move on to the Kindle if the iPad was dead.

I felt defeated. Then, I realized the concept was still good it just needed a little tweaking for our family.

When the boys were away one day, I gathered all the chargers and hid them away in my room. This seemed to be one of my major flaws the first round. If they knew where the chargers were, they were sure as heck going to use them. 

I also included every tablet in the new regime. Each one has several hours of run time and that seemed like plenty of time to play within one week. So, now I gather every tablet after the boys have gone to bed on Saturday night (therefore, maintaining the secrecy of the chargers) and charge everything overnight.

Come Sunday every tablet is on 100% and will not be plugged up again until the next week.

I don’t set any rules about who can play what for how long. They are in charge of working that out among themselves. They’ve been running through a huge chunk of time on Sunday, which is fine with me because I prefer our weekday evenings mostly screen free.

The television is obviously not included within the limitation. I allow PBS Kids in the morning and then other television viewing when I’m too tired to wrangle, which is why I like it not being limited. That way I don’t have to undermine myself when I just want everyone to BE. QUIET. for 30 minutes so I can hear myself think. 

Now, this would not work with a video game console, like a Wii or XBox. We don’t have those in our house because my husband would quickly lose his job and I like having food and shelter.

However, if your main battle is with tablets, it works like a charm.

We’re a couple of weeks in and both boys know we only charge on church days and they’ll have to find something else to do once the batteries are dead.

The best part?

No more timers. No more charts. No more nagging. 

How do you limit screen time?