J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Screen Time Battles–The Kid Solves It

Our daughter is a fighter, a fierce advocate for her own needs and preferences, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But of course this means that when Kia and I impose screen time limits, we get pushback. Sometimes the battles are epic.

A few weeks ago we got so tired of the constant debating and arguing that we took away all her screen time privileges for a full week. She was pretty grumpy about it, but Kia and I thought the week went great. Was this the solution? It didn’t seem fair to just eliminate screen time altogether, permanently.

So we had a family meeting and hashed out a set of guidelines that we all felt reasonably happy with. And the week after that went pretty well. But inevitably, the arguments started up again. How much had she already watched? Had she finished her homework first, as agreed?

Ultimately the nine-year-old came up with a good solution herself. She suggested we use the ScreenTime app (for Android and iOS), which a friend of hers uses. The app automatically tracks usage time and shuts down some or all apps after that time is done.

It took me about twenty minutes to sign up and configure. You can black out bed/sleep time, as well as school hours. I found the interface to be simple and intuitive, even though the options are as detailed (different rules for weekdays vs. weekends, for example).

I’m still in the trial period, but I’m happy to pay what they’re asking ($4/month or $40/year).

What I like best about this solution is that my daughter suggested it. She still complains a little when she gets shut off, but it doesn’t feel arbitrary or unfair. As a parent, I’ve realized she wasn’t spending as much time on her device as I thought she was (she’s pretty busy, with school, activities, playdates, and regular visits from family members).

So, two thumbs up for ScreenTime.


Emotional Labor and Invisible Household Work – A Male Perspective


Fiction Writing Update, Thoughts on Motivation and Incentive


  1. Gonzalo Fernandez

    Take a look also to OurPact. I’ve been using it for a year and it’s been awesome.

  2. A child-generated solution is definitely the best kind. When my kids were really small, there were no dedicated apps. We were concerned more about TV time than computer screen time. Our solution was to give them a certain number of hours per week (I think it was three), divided into half-hour increments. Each kid received a ticket good for 30 minutes of TV time and turned in their tickets every time they watched. This gave them some control over the process: they could choose to watch 3 hours in one day and be without for the rest of the week, or ration themselves. I won’t pretend that it turned them away from tech (now, in their late teens, they’re as glued to their screens as any other post-millennial person), but it at least made them aware of how much they were watching/wanted to watch.

    • We were using a similar system, but actually tracking the time on devices got complicated and contentious. It’s nice having the device track its own usage.

Join the discussion! Please be excellent to each other. Sometimes comments are moderated.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén