How Screen Time Works for Our Family

screen time for kids


screen time for kids

This post is created in partnership with Sophos Home, a free and easy way to keep your family safe online

One question I get all the time is how we deal with screen time for our children. I wrote a post about this topic back in 2013, but things have certainly changed since then with new technologies, more devices, and older children.

I know that every family has different circumstances, and it’s a constantly changing landscape, but for right now, this is what’s working well for us.

As far as television and movies go, the girls watch very little. We usually watch a movie as a family on Friday nights, and then generally once a week or every other week, they watch about an hour of Netflix (usually an episode of Magic School Bus and an episode of Sophia the First) while I iron.

I’m personally not a big television or movie watcher, and I find it a giant pain to turn on the television and set up Netflix (this makes me sound like the laziest person on the planet. So be it), plus I feel like television makes my children crabby, so we keep it to a minimum, unless we’re on a road trip in which case they watch alllllllll the episodes on the iPad they want.

About three days a week, Ella uses the computer for homeschool, and does coding (we like and or typing practice and then spends some time on Magic Tree House. Ani likes to watch her, and she loves playing the games on PBS Kids or reading books on Tumblebooks.

screen time for kids

And Ella spends HOURS every day listening to audiobooks on the iPad while she works on her jigsaw puzzles and for 30 minutes before she goes to bed (if you think finding audiobooks for her is a part-time job, you are correct).

Also, they love looking at pictures on my phone or watching YouTube videos with Bart.

We try not to make it too restrictive where screen time becomes something they just want constantly, but also not something that eats up all their time.

The girls don’t use the computers on their own, but I know how easy it is to accidentally open something questionable on the computer or have the next YouTube video that comes up (or the suggested ones!) be one I definitely don’t want them watching.

Which is why I’m such a big fan of Sophos Home.

Sophos makes business grade security software, and Sophos Home is a free software that they’ve made available to individuals and families to keep them safe online.

I love that I get super high-quality software to protect my sweet girls as they learn to navigate the Internet.

They’ve also developed a tool kit with tips for all the sorts of things I found super useful, like how to filter YouTube content or setting up the security settings on my iPhone.

Plus, they’re running a sweepstakes that goes through today with a Macbook grand prize, and two more winners get an Apple Watch. To enter the sweepstakes and download Sophos Home, visit them here!

I’d love to hear how you deal with screen time in your family and what’s worked for you. And don’t forget to enter the Sophos Home sweepstakes before it ends tonight!

screen time for kids


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  1. Screen time makes my daughter crabby so we limit it. She gets 30 minutes a day, which I still feel it too much.

  2. My son just turned one, and so this is something I am starting to think about I really enjoyed your comment about not restricting screen time to the point that it is something they constantly crave – I have definitely seen that happen:/ Great post!

  3. Why, oh why, does screen time make them crabby??? My almost-3-year-old is at her crabbiest when we turn the TV off! We are pretty strict about screen time: we also do Friday night movies, but other than that, she probably watches at most 1-2 episodes of Daniel Tiger or Doc McStuffins per week. I always give her a heads-up: "this is the last episode/the movie is almost over," but, invariably, she has a meltdown as soon as the TV is turned off. It's totally counter-productive: I usually use Daniel Tiger as a way to avoid a meltdown while I have to get something done around the house, but as soon as the show is over, meltdown ensues. Ay me!

  4. Em gets basically zero screen time because she chucks my phone when I try to give it to her, and she just does not have the attention span to sit through an episode of anything. Jay LOVES tv, so I usually let him watch 1-2 episodes of something while I get work done and Em is napping, but then he has to go outside and ride his bike or do something else while I finish getting my work done, and before we get his home school stuff done for the day. He has been a lot more interested in learning to type and use the computer lately though, so I think we'll likely transition TV time to computer time in the next little bit by using the typing and other programs you mentioned above. But then my Bishop's wife from back home bought him his own Kindle Fire for Christmas, which I'm sure is going to super enjoyable trying to manage when the time comes 😉

  5. From my research, screen time makes kids crabby because it requires so little effort from their brain that anything else they do besides screen time seems like a LOT of work. It basically makes their brains lazy. I don't have kids yet but the one family I know that only does TV/screen time on Saturday evenings for family movie night, their kids are the most well behaved kids I've ever met, and they can occupy themselves for hours!

  6. I loved this post! It's always so fascinating to see how other families deal with screens. My three-year-old LOVES tv (not so much movies, although she goes through phases) and would watch it non-stop if I let her. We have a "rule" that there's no TV on school nights, but on the weekends I do let her watch TV. Up to three shows a day. But like you, on car trips, the iPad is our best friend.

    I can't WAIT until she really "gets" audiobooks. I've checked out a few from the library, and I don't think she fully understands how to listen and turn the pages. But it's coming soon and I think she's going to love it. We also allow liberal use of the iPad when we are out a restaurant.

    (Funnily enough, my husband and I were listening to A Doubter's Almanac on a long car trip recently, and our daughter was asleep. But then she woke up and just listened along with us. When we got back in the car after stopping for gas, she requested that we keep listening! So maybe she is more ready than I think…)

  7. My kids (once they are two) have the opportunity to earn two "shows" a day. To watch them they have to finish all their chores and be dressed for the day. Some days they watch 2 shows, some days none. When I am postpartum probably more… Love your arrangement though. We were a family movie night only family for a while, but then we had another baby and things changed.
    Those little headphones that Ella is wearing are so cute. Where did you find them?

  8. So I just finished listening to a great middle-grade audiobook that (from what you've said about her interests) I think Ella might enjoy. If you haven't offered it to her, you might try The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. I really enjoyed it and the narrator does a great job- good voices for all the characters, and I think the plot is probably about right for someone Ella's age who has practice listening to audiobooks. Figured I'd help you out with that part-time job of yours. 😉

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