Imakemy kids pay me for screen time

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - OUT & ABOUT - CRISTINA MARGOLIS

When I think of my child­hood, most of my mem­o­ries take place out­side. I rode my bike, ran around the park, and made up games to play with my friends and the neigh­bour­hood kids.

The only screen time I got was Satur­day morn­ing car­toons. Al­though I’d love for my chil­dren to have that same tech­nol­ogy-free life­style, they’re grow­ing up in a world that’s ob­sessed with ev­ery kind of de­vice imag­in­able.

It also doesn’t help that we live in Sil­i­con Val­ley, where it’s pretty much un­avoid­able to see a kid with a smart­phone or tablet ev­ery­where we go. In­stead of build­ing a cas­tle in the sand­box, my 8-year-old would rather build aMinecraft house on the iPad.

Don’t get me wrong — I think the new tech­nol­ogy our chil­dren are grow­ing up with to­day is fan­tas­tic and ex­cit­ing. I never wanted to ban screen time from our home com­pletely, but I def­i­nitely wanted to limit it in a smart and prac­ti­cal way.

That’s why I came up with a sys­tem that’s proven to be very suc­cess­ful with my two kids, ages 6 and 8. In­stead of blindly hand­ing over the iPad when­ever they ask for it, I make them earn their screen time by com­plet­ing chores.

Since screen time means more to my young chil­dren than ac­tual money right now, I’m us­ing it to my ad­van­tage and for­go­ing the tra­di­tional route of pay­ing them for chores and am in­stead hav­ing them earn toy coins that have a 15-minute screen time value. They pay me, and they get the de­vice.

Each child is given a list of age-ap­pro­pri­ate chores that are di­vided into three cat­e­gories: chores worth one coin (15 min­utes), chores worth two coins (30 min­utes), and chores worth three coins (45 min­utes).

An ex­am­ple of each chore that would earn my child one, two, and three coins, re­spec­tively, would be giv­ing our dog food and wa­ter, help­ing pre­pare din­ner, and do­ing their laun­dry.

As long as their home­work and main re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are com­plete, they’re free to re­deem their coins for screen time, whether it’s 15 min­utes or 90 min­utes.

At first, my kids were not thrilled with hav­ing to pay for screen time, but they quickly learned that if they re­ally wanted some­thing, they were go­ing to have to work for it. This ap­plies to all as­pects of life, and I’m glad they’re learn­ing this im­por­tant les­son at a young age.

Hav­ing this coin sys­tem in place has taught them re­spon­si­bil­ity, ac­count­abil­ity, and time man­age­ment skills. It’s also had other sur­pris­ing ben­e­fits as well, like boost­ing their self­con­fi­dence and self-es­teem.

Our chil­dren are grow­ing up in a fast-paced, tech­nol­o­gy­hun­gry world. I be­lieve it’s im­por­tant for them to be en­riched by the tech­nol­ogy, be­cause there are so many great ben­e­fits, but not con­sumed by it.

I would never want my chil­dren to feel en­ti­tled to screen time. I want them to know it’s a priv­i­lege and re­ward for them putting their fam­ily and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties first. And as far as I know, there’s no app for that.

Since screen time means more to my young chil­dren than ac­tual money right now, I’m us­ing it to my ad­van­tage. (File photo).

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