How Much Should You Let Kids Use Screens During The Holidays?

by Screen Time Team on 20/12/2018

The holidays are primarily for family. Screens can step back for a bit.

Reward Or Babysitter?

The first question to ask is whether your considering changing the rules because it’s an easy way to get kids out of your hair. The holidays are stressful for everyone; there are gifts to shop for, food to prepare, homes to clean, trips to plan, and sometimes the kids need to entertain themselves. The trade-off is that once school and other commitments start back up, it may be difficult to reimpose the rules, especially with younger children. Instead, ask yourself if there are tasks kids can help you out with, or if there aren’t other things they can do.

New Toys, New Temptations

Another factor to consider is that, especially as kids get older, new screens will almost certainly be coming in the door. Hopefully, you’ve had a conversation with your extended family about what gifts are appropriate at what age, but as we all know too well, some family members might forget or simply decide you can’t punish them.

A new toy in the house makes sticking to the rules particularly important. Children should understand that novelty doesn’t mean the rules go out the window, and carving out a “temporary” exception might lead to tears when homework comes back into the picture.

Have kids earned screens this holiday season?

Are They Behaving?

That said, it is worth considering how they’re sticking to the rules already, and how they’re behaving in general. If, for example, they’re being polite to their relatives, staying off their phones except for the appointed times, and are otherwise staying within the rules, it might be worth giving them a little more time to play games or chat with friends.

If possible, set these standards before the holidays unfold. Some rules should be in place no matter what, such as no phones at bedtime and screens put away when it’s time for dinner, but you can be flexible elsewhere if they’re well-behaved. One approach might be to either shift the hours you have your parental control app set to lock the phone, or for older kids, to offer them a deal where for every chore they help with, they can bank a little more screen time to use.

Getting Back to Your Normal Routine

However, it should be clear that this is temporary. You might even want to set a specific end date a few days before school starts back up to help them get back into the habit. You may also want to have them select a few other ways to keep themselves entertained over the course of the holidays, such as a reading challenge, playing outside, or decorating the house.

The holidays can easily drive all of us a little up the wall, but that doesn’t mean we need to hide in our screens. With some good conversation and some clear standards, the holidays can be happier. To learn how Screen Time can help, try it for free!


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