Setting Technology Limits for Kids

With summer in full swing here in the desert, I’ve noticed that my kids are spending more and more time on the computer, playing the DS, and watching TV.  (With summer temperatures typically over 105 degrees, it’s rarely cool enough to play outside for very long.)  I don’t want my kids to turn into couch potatoes, so today I’m sharing tips for setting technology limits for kids. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the technology token system (and free printable) I use as well.

Setting Technology Limits for Kids

Help kids balance their time this summer by limiting their time with technology {How-To Tips from} #activeparenting

Why Set Limits?

Some may ask, why do I care?  Why not allow unlimited time with electronics and TV?

  • I want my kids to experience life, not just stare at computer screens all day.  There are so many other things that they can do with their time.  It just takes a little creativity.  It’s easy to get boxed into a few options in the summer:  Play on the computer, watch TV, play with the same old toys.  (Have a friend over to play on the computer, watch TV or play with the same old toys!)
  • I want my kids to be able to interact with other people and solve real-life problems.  When they stare at a screen all day, they don’t interact with real people.
  • I don’t want my kids to get involved with violent games.  Sure, the games they play now are innocent and sometimes even educational, but what games might they play as they get older or at friends’ houses?
  • I want my kids to be active and healthy.  Sitting on your behind all day doesn’t exactly make you physically fit!  (Trust me.  I know.  Since starting to blog, my activity level has gone down, and my weight has gone up!)

When time with technology is limited, kids use their imagination to entertain themselves.  They might even find time to help clean the house!

RELATED: Summer Learning for Kids {How to Avoid the Summer Slide}Summer Math Fact Practice for Kids

Incidentally, while writing this, I realized that I am a terrible example!  I’m always working on the computer.  It’s time to turn it off and go play with the kids!

How to Set Limits

Help kids balance their time this summer by limiting their time with technology {How-To Tips from} #activeparenting

First, define what you mean by technology.  Does that include TV time?  Does it include playing games on the wii when the kids are up and active?  If you do include TV time, does that include a movie that you are watching together as a family?

Now that you know what you want to limit, decide how much time you want your kids to spend using technology every day.  At our house, we decided that 2 hours during the summer  (Monday-Saturday) was the max.  I’m still trying to decide if that time will include TV time or not.  I keep going back and forth. The time limit may change, but that’s where we decided to start. Choose what is right for your family.

One more hard one:  Do these limits extend to time spent at friends’ homes?

Decide the answers to these questions, and include them in the plan when you discuss it with the kids.

Make Them Earn It!

Kids today tend to think that they are entitled to everything–without having to work for it.  Let them know that technology is an earned privilege, not a free right.  Make a plan for what the kids must accomplish each day before they earn their technology time.

In your home, let access to technology become an earned privilege, and not a  free right {} #activeparenting

Before my kids earn their time, they must do the following basic things, plus any extra jobs I assign:

  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast (Yep.  I have one little one who tries to skip breakfast all the time!  I actually have to include it in her list!)
  • Brush teeth and hair
  • Empty the dishwasher and reload breakfast dishes from today
  • Practice the piano
  • Put away pajamas and straighten bedroom
  • Look around and find one cleaning job that needs to be done (this should take at least 10 minutes)  (I love this idea.  I want the kids to notice by themselves what they can do to help.)
  • Any extra jobs I assign

Other ideas might include:  Read for 20-30 minutes, practice multiplication facts, play a math game, do something nice for someone else, etc.

RELATED:  Turn Short-Term Goals into Long-Term HabitsSuper Kids Goal Setting Chart

Keep Track of Technology Time {Technology Token System}

Setting Technology Limits for Kids {How-To Tips from} #activeparenting

So, here’s where it gets fun:  I made this Technology Token System to help the kids see what they earned and to keep track of the time they used.  This post has gotten really long, so I’ll be sharing more details and the printable later today!  I hope you’ll come back for more!

Present the New System

Now that you have the new plan, don’t forget to sit down with the kids and talk about it.  Make sure the kids know why you are setting limits.  This is a good time to talk about the values of your family.

Setting limits shows that you value time well spent, education, a balanced lifestyle, hard work, serving others and so much more!  Sit down and have a great discussion with your kids!

And be prepared!  If you haven’t already evaluated the time you spend playing games on your phone or perusing facebook, your kids will probably suggest that you check your own habits as well!  Yep.  If we’re going to talk the talk, our kids will expect us to also walk the walk!

Help kids balance their time this summer by limiting their time with technology {How-To Tips from} #activeparenting

Thanks for stopping by today.  I’ll see you tomorrow with my Technology Token System.  I love to share ideas about parenting.  You might like these, too.  (Images below are linked.)

How to Make Friends at School: Eight tips to make the first day of school great! {}

It is possible for kids to have too much of a good thing. Find out how getting rid of most of our toys made us a happier family! {}

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {} Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms? Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start. (Free Printable Reminder Cards)

See you again soon!



  1. Great tips! This isn’t as much of a concern for me during the summer since we play outside all day(it isn’t as warm here in PA ) but is always a concern of mine in the winter. I will be bookmarking this tips for sure!

  2. This is so great! Can’t wait to check out the Token system! My boys TOTALLY need this!

    • Thanks, Pam. So, what happens when your boys and my girls tell us we need to limit our time on the computer, too? Hee, hee! I have to teach the difference between work and play, but sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which!

  3. I worry about this already and my son is only two! He just loves playing on the tablet.

  4. I actually sent this via email to both my boys. They didn’t want to hear it, but I think it really hit home for them.

  5. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. When I allow my kids access to screens, it really seems like it’s terribly addicting for them (I see this so often in adults around me, too). They certainly cannot police themselves. It does start out innocently, doesn’t it? We have set our limit at about a hour a day for screentime.

    Nicole of Planning with Kids recently published a couple good posts on this topic. Here’s the link:

  6. We just presented contracts to our kids this morning, outlining the expectations for technology use and limits. We covered a lot of the same topics you mention in your post. I like your approach!

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