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If you read about our trip to Utah, you know that we’re currently a man down! Luke has a very broken collarbone and is under strict orders from the doctors to keep his arm still. No PE, Recess, Sports, running, jumping, skating, rolling, flailing, or “anything else fun” (according to Luke). Do you know how hard it is to keep a VERY active six-year-old inactive? Heaven help me!
While I can keep him entertained with games, Legos, STEM activities, and some crafts, Luke is right-handed and losing the use of his right arm means that he needs a lot of help, even with easy activities, from mom. I can only help with so many activities before I need to get some other things done! Normally, I make the boys play in the backyard for an hour or so while I make dinner, or clean, but he can’t do that right now. Guess what that means? If I’m going to get a moments peace, that means I am going to have to give him some more screen time on his tablet than usual for the next six weeks.
Finding the right balance of screen time vs non-screen time is a battle, even when the kids aren’t hurt or sick. They would much rather play a video game than go on a treasure hunt in the backyard. I have a bad habit of telling them “you can play for one hour” then find myself wrapped up in some task, and, before I know it, two hours have passed by and they’re still glued to their screens. Have you been there? I knew I needed something to help keep us all accountable!
So far, my kids have been really good about only using approved apps, using their devices in our living room only, and asking permission before downloading or searching for anything, so I was looking for something that would help simply limit their screen time. I found the Screen Time App in just the right time! I was immediately drawn to how user-friendly the parent portal is, and it had exactly what I was looking for & then some! The app itself is free and it includes basic web monitoring, daily usage reports, and allows 1 device per child. For a small yearly fee, I could not only monitor & control the screen time but also see more detailed reports on their device usage, set & pause schedules, award more time for good choices, add chore lists and more. We had to give it a try!
Setting up and pairing Luke’s tablet to my phone was really easy. I simply used a code generated by the app to pair both devices and we were all set. I initially give the boys 60 minutes of screen time per day, and more can be earned depending upon chores and good behavior, the weather (if it’s storming we get a little more), and if
I love that I can give a different amount of time for the weekends than week days. My usual rule during the school year is no screen time Monday-Thursday. I want them out and moving after school, and by the time homework, chores and activities are complete, we usually don’t have time anyway. I bend the rule if we are waiting on only one to come out of soccer or hockey; the other can play while they wait on their brother.
When Luke reaches his daily limit, his device immediately shuts the app down! At that point, he comes to me and asks if he can have more screen time. I have the option to extend his free play on my end for however long I’d like, and can even include a note like “thanks for being good” that he will see when he receives his message that he can play again, or he can go into the app and earn more screen time with some designated chores!
As a parent, I can add as many different tasks as I want to that would allow him to earn more screen time. For now, I stuck with just a few easy ones that he can do one-handed! Once Luke is healed, I’ll go back in and add his regular chores like helping with the dishes, making his bed, and the pooper scooper. When he completes his chores, he can go in and check them as complete to earn a few more minutes on his favorite games!
At the end of each day, I receive an email like the above that shows me exactly what his activity was for the day. Clearly, he was really into racing! At six, I’m not so worried about his app choices, but I know staying on top of these selections and seeing his activity is going to become more and more important.
Landry, at 10, does have a cell phone that he uses only in the family room and kitchen, and takes with him if he is going to be dropped off somewhere. So far he has been pretty basic with his phone usage, but as we near
Screen Time offers a Bedtime feature that allows you to set limits on the hours in the evening the device cannot be accessed. I set up our bedtime from 7:30 pm to 8:00 am. During those hours, even if they started their hour daily limit at 7:00 pm, the device cannot be used. A friend of mine with a 5th grader recently told me about how some of the girls had a little drama one night when they weren’t even supposed to have their phones out. Two girls were at a sleepover and one was left out. The girls’ parents at the sleepover had no idea they were using phones, and they had been calling & texting the one left out trying to cover their tracks to not upset her. Innocent enough, right? But it was after 9:00, so when the girl’s phone who was left out starting chiming left and right in her mom’s room (where it has to plug in after their cut off time), mama wasn’t too pleased! She spent the next hour or so that night dealing with an upset daughter because her feelings were so hurt.
The App Blocker feature is another great component to Screen Time! For Luke’s tablet, I have google turned off completely. At his age, the worst thing he has googled is fart, but even that comes back with some pretty nasty pictures!!! Landry’s phone has more restrictions. All social media apps are blocked, but since I set up his phone using my google account and can’t figure out how to unsync it, I have a lot of other apps turned off as well like my calendar, gmail, my contacts, and a few other things!
Web Filtering and Geo Locations can also be added onto your plan, and will be added soon to Landry’s phone. Web Filtering allows you to keep search engines active while blocking certain search terms! Geo Location allows you to track the device movements. As we enter middle school next year, and more freedoms are allowed, I can imagine I’ll be using the Geo Location to make sure he is where he is supposed to be a lot!
Absolutely! Everything that you get access to for $4.99 per month is beyond worth the price! I have tried a similar app for $11.99 a month and didn’t find it to be nearly as user friendly, or informative. If something inappropriate was pulled up using the other app, I got a notification that said “Landry searched something inappropriate” but that was it. I had no way of knowing what it was unless I went into Landry’s phone.
I love how easy Screen Time is to
Screen Time was also a winner for the 2019 National Parenting Products Awards and I can absolutely see why. As a busy mom, I need something that I can set up on their device quickly and easily, that I can understand, and that is the best bang for my buck! Screen Time checks off all 3 of these things for me.
To learn more check out their website or search Screen Time in your device Play Store.
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