It's that time of the year again to spread the word about the importance of minimizing the time kids spend in front of screens - passively or actively -- meaning, watching TV shows, or playing interactive video/iPad games.
While Zero-Screen-Time has never been the goal at home, it has become a habit for kids to not watch TV/Movies on weekdays, because "School days are not Watch days." Kids do get to watch on weekends, based on how much "watch time" they have earned, but since we don't have Cable or Network television programming hooked up, they get to choose from a limited array of streaming content, which can get tiresome and uninteresting pretty quickly.
What about video games and iPad games? It depends on the child - their age, their interests, and their self-control. What has worked well so far is to allow daily iPad use with some sensible conditions around it that kids have agreed to: earn 30 minutes of iPad time thrice a week after school if they have put away their lunch things from school, unloaded the dishwasher, and had at least half an hour of outside play time on a non-soggy day. And, part of the time is spent learning something new - be it a new word, or a new animal fact, or how to cook a new dish, or about a country/culture/language. Just one new thing - make it a game for the kids to share this new thing at dinner time.
The toughest part is to get the kids on board and have them understand why it is important; after that, they can self-correct and develop a discipline of limiting their screen time.
Whatever works for each family is the best approach, there is no single formula to ensure success.
[image source: http://www.screenfree.org/]