As much as it can give you a very much needed respite from the kids, you definitely don’t want them to spend all day on their devices (or maybe some days you do). Too much screen time can affect your children, and so it’s a great idea to make sure your kids are limiting the time they spend glued to a device.

There are several great ways to get your kids to turn the devices off and rejoin the living world.

Use a Kitchen Timer

During the week you can set an “all access time” and use a kitchen timer to make sure no one is going over their time. When the timer dings, it’s time to turn the device off (or turn it in to you for safe keeping). Using this method, they could maybe earn another go at the kitchen timer by doing some extra chores!

Use an App

There are quite a few great apps out there that can automatically lock a device once it’s reached a certain usage time. Some of these apps can even lock your child out of the more “fun” apps while still giving them access to various educational apps they use for their homework. Some of the apps that control screen time will even allow the child to do an extra task and send the notification of the task to your phone so you can approve a few extra minutes based on what they did.

Use a Watch

This one may not be quite as automatic as some of the other options, but if you get into a basic daily routine, this could be an easy one to follow. For example… from 3:00 – 3:30 every day is screen time. They can choose whatever they want to use, whether it’s a gaming system on the TV, the computer, or a tablet or phone. Once it hits 3:30 though, everything gets turned off.

Plan Outdoor/Other Activity Time

Set up a playdate with friends, head to the pool, schedule time at your local indoor climbing gym, go to your local children’s museum or zoo, just make sure whatever you set up takes place outside of your house. When you are outside of your house (even if it’s someplace indoors), there is absolutely no temptation to play on devices when there is so much else going on. Plan something outside of the house at least once a week.

While limiting your kids screen time is definitely important, there are some things they can be doing with the screen time that will maximize the benefit of the technology. There is such a broad range of educational games and products, that the screen time can definitely help your kids get ahead in school!

The Basics

The amount of reading, writing and arithmetic games can be overwhelming! So many to choose from, that it can be hard to choose. I like to sort by highest rated ones, and then look at the screenshots of the app to see if the game play and user interface is going to be something your kids would be interested in. For example, for my dragon loving daughter, I’d probably find games that center around dragon characters.


I admit I’m kind of obsessed with teaching my children to type properly. It is the one skill I’m forever grateful to have learned in Jr. High. If you teach your children to type properly, they will definitely get a huge head start in school.
Coding – Teaching kids the basics of coding does so much more than prepare them for more advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning. It also teaches them problem solving skills they can translate into real life conflicts and issues.


Devices can also open up a whole world of art that they can explore. You may not have all the colors of paint, but my tablet sure does. My daughter creates AMAZING works of art on her tablet. She has a stylus, which really helps her get the drawings exactly how she wants… and I love that I’ve stopped going through reams of paper every week.

Make sure your kids are getting the most bang for their buck by downloading these kinds of apps and keeping some of the more mindless fun games limited to just a few. When they do get some time on their devices, the more fun the educational games you find are, the more likely they’ll play them during their allotted time!

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Sarah Kimmel

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Sarah Kimmel

Sarah is a mom who fixes technology (as her daughter puts it, “you can fix ANYTHING electronic!”). She has been in the IT industry supporting small businesses for over 10 years, and now offers free tech help and tips on her blog,, where she helps families navigate the awesome and sometimes scary world of technology.

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