A Healthy Way for Kids to Earn Screen Time

A Healthy Way for Kids to Earn Screen Time

If your kids are glued to their screens, this intervention could be what you all need.


Betsy Voreacos

From television to tablets, smartphones to laptops, video game consoles to handheld devices – it sometimes feels as though our lives have been taken over by electronics. And while you can (barely) remember life without them, your kids may have never known anything but life with devices.

While we can all agree that too much screen time is not good for anyone, there is certainly much good that comes from our gadgets. The problem is not so much what is consuming our kids on the screen – it’s that the screen often keeps them from being active. And kids need to move!

Try adding a little healthy competition and activity to their screen time with this fun approach.

Set the stakes
Kids earn screen time by expending a certain amount of physical energy. Write up a chart so they know what they have to do to earn credits toward time on their devices. For instance, 10 minutes of jumping rope can earn five “credits” toward screen time. A run around the block might also earn five credits. Soccer practice earns 20 credits. Playing catch with a sibling for 15 minutes, well, that might be worth 40! (If no one gets into a fight, of course.)

More from P&G everyday: 5 Tips for Monitoring Kids' Online Activity

Establish a screen time currency
You can use pennies, plastic game pieces, index cards, or even paper clips that are easy to collect and contain. “Pay” your kids with the pre-determined currency as they complete their physical exercises. For screen time, they must pay you back the appropriate amount of currency – this can be one credit per minute, or some other value you determine.

Banking time
Using tangible currency turns this into a financial lesson as well. Explain to your kids that by “banking” their currency, they can benefit from large chunks of screen time rather than short, choppy segments.

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The bottom line is, screen time is a privilege. And as parents, we have the power to control the power it has over our kids. Setting limits is never easy, but we can make it more fun and less worrisome by creating a healthy element, earning and learning as we go.

How do you limit your kids’ screen time?


Betsy lives with her family a stone’s throw from New York City. An overly involved mother of three children, Betsy has always been acutely aware of her shortcomings as a parent, not to mention those of her children. She documents her life in the brutally honest Old Minivans Die Hard.

Image ©iStock.com/TommL


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