Social Skills: Screen Time

Dilemma: Your child loves to play video games, portable game systems, use the computer, and/or watch television shows.  Transitions away from screen time are difficult and create arguments. 

Everyday Solutions(s): Limit daily screen time to 1-2 hours per day.  Providing structure and alternative, physical activities helps to naturally limit screen time.  Summer is a great time for swimming, camps, and other outdoor activities.  You may also consider using a token box that can be purchased from Family Safe Media.  This device attaches to the game console and allows electricity to the game system depending on the amount of tokens the child inserts into the device.  You control the tokens and use them as rewards.  Thus, completing a daily chore might be worth one token, which “buys” the child 15 minutes of game time.  When the time is up, the device shuts off, which teaches the child to use his or her time wisely.  It’s tough to argue with a machine when it is time to transition. 

Sōsh Approach: Use the Sōsh mobile app Transition Timer.  As stated above, the incidence of argument is substantially lowers when a timer rather than a caregiver makes the transition announcement.  The child can also be encouraged to log his video game activity in the Sōsh Interest Log and can be rewarded for staying within your screen time guidelines or transitioning without incident.  Further, having a child journal his or her strong feelings about transitions (once calm) can help to increase emotional awareness and self-control during future transitions.  For an in-depth explanation of these and other effective transition strategies, check out this book.  

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