We just visited the doctor the other day for a well-check, and was told that the College of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 hour of screen time a day. I must admit that on school break days, I will often allow many more times that much screen time, on at least one or two days, if the break is a week long. However, for years, one hour has been our standard. On weekends, we might do a bit more, especially if the screen time includes watching shows together as a family.
Through a convoluted set of circumstances, that I won’t bore you with on this post, my son somehow ended up with 90 minutes of screen time each night. But being an 8th-grader, that meant it was hard to fit both homework and screen time in, along with piano lessons and youth group. Thankfully we didn’t have to try to fit sports into that mix, too. Though, I do need to figure out how to get more exercise out of the kid! Anyway, I finally pulled a helpful piece of parenting advice that I received from a friend years ago, and have threatened to use for several years now, out of my back pocket.
As mentioned, my son had been having a hard time completing his homework, because he wanted to make sure he got in his 90 minutes of computer time each evening. No matter how many times I asked if his homework was done, or asked to see if it was completed, too many times, I would later find that he had only finished part of it because 7 pm computer start time had approached before the homework was done. So here’s what I finally did.
My friend didn’t allow her boys to play computer on the weekdays. Because of his ASD, I thought that may be a little hard on him. But I modified the advice to fit our family’s needs. My son now only gets 30 minutes of computer time M-Th evenings. He then gets 90 min F-Sun. So the itch gets scratched, but there is still plenty of time for homework, and even a little bit of time for family interaction, too. This has been great, as it has helped him feel more connected to us, and thus, less stressed out about life. Who would’ve thunk?
Having him play 60 minutes less of computer a night means that I am on duty those extra 60 minutes. And I must admit that took some getting used to at first. But now I look forward to quizzing him for an upcoming test or hearing about the latest Lego set he can’t wait to save up for.
I’m hoping that he will use this new rhythm when he is on his own, too – it’s ok to have fun, but you have to make sure you get your work done, and then you can spoil yourself a bit on the weekends. Oh, and don’t forget to make time for family – it will make life better in the long (and short) run.
3 thoughts on “How Much is Too Much?”
Your posts are great for me Heather. My son has ASD and he is homeschooled. Not because I really want to homeschool but because we live in Brazil and the school system here traumatized him. He’s suppose to be in grade three, but we had to go all the way back to grade one. That’s how un-prepared the school was to receive someone on the spectrum. Anyhow, your post on giving an allowance and this one on setting limits are great. Thanks for sharing what you’re doing.
I am so glad that they are helpful to you. After I posted this one, I thought, “I hope people don’t find this too boring.” Thanks so much for your encouragement!! I am so sorry that your son isn’t able to attend school in Brazil. I am nervous about moving my son to a high school next year. The school he is at is so good with him. But I think that is unusual, not the norm. I keep wondering if eventually I will need to homeschool him, too.
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Homeschooling has been excellent for him, and me actually. We live on a YWAM base because we are missionaries, and there are many kids and families here. He loves it. He is learning in an environment filled with healthy relationships, social interactions of all ages, love and freedom. Up until last January we were not living at our home base, so it wasn’t really possible to homeschool. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I hope all goes well with the transfer to high school. I can’t imagine. That must be tough.