Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Screen time Management for Kids & TimeTokens

How often does your child use a screen for fun? The screen could be the TV, a games console, tablet device or a phone for example. 

 Thankfully, Lily doesn't use screens very much and I've never really had to manage it apart from our usual house rules. Currently the TV is only allowed to be turned on once everyone has got dressed ready for school and preschool, and that includes the baby. I actually find the programmes good for time management. During the last academic year I knew that after "Digby Dragon" finished it was time to round up the troops to get going. As for iPads, we own two, but the mini has a delicate screen after it was thrown over the kitchen stairgate by baby Alex so it has pretty much retired and I am terrible at remembering to charge the main iPad. So far, Lily and Alex don't own their own tablet devices.

When TimeTokens contacted us to review their simple screen management pack we agreed to put it to the test.

TimeTokens contents
The complete pack is available online for £14.95

How do TimeTokens work?
A TimeTokens pack is delivered to your child, in which they will find:
  • a stopwatch
  • welcome note
  • TimeToken cards: a total of 7 hours of screen time
  • Golden Ticket
  • Promise Contract
You and your child decide the total amount of screen time per week and sign the Promise Contract. Your child holds onto the wallet and when they would like some screen time they have to hand over TimeTokens, e.g, 30 mins TimeToken in exchange for 30 mins of screen time. Don't forget to use the timer! When all of the TimeTokens have been used up, they are returned at the start of a new week or a day of your choice, such as a Friday. Friday is TimeToken Day! It is the start of the weekend so we generally have more time for devices.

TimeTokens pack
The TimeTokens come in a bright wallet complete with the aforementioned contents plus an introduction to five characters called The Frazzles. The Frazzles encourage children to participate in something other than screen time, such as fun 'INGS' (verbs or do-ING words)

Now, so far we have been using it in a fairly different way for Lily which seems to work for us. Rather than handing over the wallet for Lily, she requests screen time and I let her choose a TimeToken which she likes to have on her during her screen time, along with the timer. Then she hands it back. Lily is 5 and currently this system works for her attention span and dedication. I anticipate that we will try it according to the official instructions one day, but it is useful for anyone to know that the TimeTokens can be used in another way to suit your family dynamic.

TimeToken wallet contents

Lily particularly likes the 15 minute Time Token but if she does receive a charged iPad, quite a lot of time is spent faffing about what to do or watch which takes up time. But still, she hands back the card once the timer has gone off. The LCD timer is very loud though, I'm less inclined to use it when I've just put baby Freyja down for a nap. Perhaps a series of coloured sand timers would be engaging and definitely less noisy, although you'd have to keep an eye on it!

I was interested to know if any fellow bloggers manage screen time. Here are a selection of their responses:

Earning Screen time and House Rules:

"My son has just turned six and he has to earn screen time by reading, practicing writing and doing simple chores."

"We implement a few rules - no devices at meal time, restrictions on our eldest child's computer, rules for us all (leading by example), no devices in bedrooms... It's a a real struggle with our older child but he now understands the rules and it makes him so much calmer if he has less screen time."

No restrictions:

"I don't. We've let our three (6, 4 and 2) have pretty much free reign. They've all been sensible at knowing when enough is enough. In fact, the tablets have been in the cupboard the whole summer holidays and not been asked for once!"

"I don't. I don't really understand those who do to be completely honest. I find programmes are very educational and my son has learnt an awful lot from some of them. I also like to use TV and films to help him chill out. He's a very active child and it's the only way I can get him to relax. Watching a Disney film together is quality time together and I love it. I don't think any of it is doing him any harm."


"We have an app that restricts screen time to so many minutes a day. When his time is up, he can request more time. We can then either grant permission for a set amount of minutes or suggest he can 'earn' more time with certain chores."

"My daughter has a Fire HD tablet and you can set limits on how long they can use it per day, and it also sets times that it goes off by - e.g. off at 7pm and not back on until 7am."

Now I can see from everyone's point of view. Currently we don't feel like we need to reign back the use of screen time because quite simply Lily doesn't use them to excess and we like to think we have it well managed. I love idea of gadget free Sunday mornings and I certainly agree with that devices can be used tactically, especially when children need downtime and yes, some kids aren't happy when they are told to stop something that they enjoy.

I think seeking a balance is key and it seems there is a different way for each family to achieve this. Children and potential addiction aside though, I'm sure there are more adults spending an inordinate amount of time on screens. That is for another blog post, I'm sure!


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