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If you need help limiting screen time for kids, this free printable is going to be amazing for you!

This No-Screen Time Until Printable Sheet has been wonderful for our family.  When we first started limiting electronics for our kids, we created this free no-screen timesheet.  Within a few months, I also added these Swap Chores for Screen Time Cards.  Together, it was a match made in Heaven!

The combination of these two things was how we started really limiting the time of our kids on electronics.   We started a year ago this month.  It was tough at first, but now, our kids are rarely on electronics.  Our efforts paid off and now the kids’ screen time is minimal.

NOTE: This post was first published in 2019, but I find that it is always useful, especially during the summer months. 

Before we get to the printable, let’s get into some background on screen time.

Parents Want to Limit Screen Time For Kids:

Did you know that more than 70% of parents wish they could lessen their child’s screen time use? It may be hard, but it is also an achievable goal (and it is worth the effort).  If you don’t want your kids to get sucked into screen time the second that they wake up… give them something else to do first.   That was the idea behind this free no screen-time sheet.   I wanted to prevent too much screen time use over the summer.

If you want to help your kids avoid non-stop screen time by finding an interest in something else first, this is a great way to do it.  Plus, you can save the ‘child electronic use’ for a time when you need it… like a long road trip!  They’ll be quiet the entire ride.   LOL! 

The main idea behind this is to give our kids something “else” to get “lost in.”  Sometimes kids just need a little motivation to get started (once our kids head outside to play, they forget about watching a movie or playing on the tablet).  If I let them just sit & default to screen-time, it will consume as much time as I allow.

I’d so much rather see them being creative and inventive.  I’d rather see them reading, drawing, experimenting, or playing.

boy playing with cards on a rug in his bedroom

How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?

I have read study after study about the child-screen time issue.  It is real & it can become very serious.  A child’s addiction to screens is likely to happen when they have unlimited access to mobile phones/cell phones, video games, home theater systems, etc…   It has been known to cause health problems in children.    According to Psychology Today: “In a new, groundbreaking study published in Preventive Medicine Reports, researchers at San Diego State University suggest that more than one hour per day of screen time for children ages two to seventeen is associated with lower psychological well-being.”

The incline of screen addiction and decline in physical activity is leading to poor mental health for both older and younger kids.   “The most significant effects were found among 14- to 17-year-olds whose screen time usage was high, seven or more hours per day. These users were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety or sought help for a psychological issue in the past year.”

Screen Time Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 2 avoid digital media other than video chatting.  They also suggest that children ages 2 to 5 should keep their television viewing (of high-quality children’s programs) to a maximum of one hour a day.

*TIP: Be sure not to let that one hour be in the evening.  The blue light from the screen can prevent your child from being able to fall asleep easily.

On a similar note, the World Health Organization suggests that infants under one year old should not be exposed to electronic screens at all.  They suggest that children between the ages of two to four should not have more than one hour of sedentary screen time daily.

Gone are the days of the family sharing a basic phone for phone calls.  Kids are now being entertained by hours of screen time. In elementary school, a kid’s phone is often seen in their backpack (which I understand because I think it’s a wonderful way to keep in touch with our children… as long as we are in control of what is happening & when they are using it.)

Even infant and toddler toys have gone from large blocks and rings to electronic toys that make sounds and have bright lights. While many of these toys offer a fun new way to teach kids their letters & numbers, it is also setting them up to expect entertainment all of the time and instant gratification (even more so with everything happening so fast thanks to 4G LTE, etc.).

Sometimes, it’s best NOT to entertain them.  I have seen that when a kid’s bored – they begin to use their imagination more, create more, write more, story-tell more, and play more. My kids have more fun making forts out of boxes & ‘price tags’ out of gift tags than with many of the electronic games out there, but it is easy for them to forget because electronics can grab their attention so quickly.  Sometimes they just need a little reminder that these other things are more fun.

*TIP: To have some control over what our kids are doing on their screens, I have all of our phones set up to require a password before adding any new games or apps.   I never give our kids the password for anything.  If they want an app (free or not) to play a new game on our way to the beach, they need to ask me & I will type in the password.   Everything goes through the parents.  

Now let’s get to the specifics of limiting screen time for kids!

How to Limit Screen Time for Kids:

  1. Use this No Screen Time For Kids Until free printable  (Click here and I will send you this chart via email)   This is a great way to encourage them to run around outside, play on the swing set, play a board game, paint, draw, build or do something ELSE first.  Get them involved in another activity before you say yes to screens.
  2. Don’t sugarcoat it.   I am very honest with our kids about screen time and electronic use.  I tell them how it can make them feel anxious, upset, grumpy, and just not as happy.  I talk about being sedentary vs. physically active.  I just tell them the scary truth about electronic use and I lay it all on the table.   It has definitely worked because about a month ago when we were going on a 4-hour car trip, our son said: “Mom, I know that being on electronics isn’t good for our brains or our bodies, but can we all download a new car-racing game to play on the way to the beach?”
  3. Use these Swap Chores for Screen Time cards.  They work SO well!!  Be consistent for three days & you will see a huge change.  Trust me! It’s also a great alternative to a chore chart, which I despise.  They are more work for me than for the kids!   Using these cards, they do their chores: sweep the floors, dust, clean up the living room, etc…  and they are rewarded with some downtime.swap chores for screen time cards pictureI love that the Swap Chores for Screen Time Cards are easy to use. It is a very simple system.  I can say: “Ok everyone – go grab 2 chore cards and then you are done and you can go play or you can use your earned time.”    Each chore card has the number of screentime minutes in the top corner.

    The SWAP CHORES FOR SCREENTIME set also comes with blank cards.  You can write things that encourage sibling play:  “Play baseball outback with your brothers.”  (I love this one because they end up playing for hours & when they come in, they can pick a show to watch together)*TIP: you can also use it when your kids ask me for their electronics.  Here’s an example:CHILD: “Mom? Can I watch a King of Random YouTube video?”

    ME: “Sure – you can watch one 20-minute episode after you’ve played for a little bit.   Grab one of the playing screen time cards that I made up.”

    Then, when they grab something like “build with LEGO blocks for 20 minutes” they are excited.  

    It is a win-win.  while it’s not a chore, it is a great way to engage their mind & body.  Plus, just like the baseball scenario, they end up playing for much longer than the designated time.

    chores for screentime cards
    4. Be a good role model.  Your child is looking to you to see what is acceptable.   Limit your screen ftime, as well.  This is hard for me, as my job IS online, but I just work while they are at school (or when they are asleep, like right now). 🙂

    5.  Have a technology-free week.  To be honest, the kids had a hard time at first, but by the end, we all loved it (and the kids weren’t fighting or arguing anymore!)

    This free printable is a perfect way to transition into summer, a holiday break or just everyday life if you want to limit your child’s screen time: No Screen Time For Kids Until printable

*TIP: In our family, vacations are electronic-free zones except for one TV that they can watch together.  They have to agree on a show, etc… (they usually pick a cooking challenge & they each wait for all of the siblings to be present before they push play since they are all on the same episode.)   It’s great to watch them bonding, laughing & talking about the latest show, episode, or challenge on the show that they are watching.

Individual devices can easily pull siblings (and friends) away from each other, as they play separate games in separate rooms, but designating one room/tv as the one that they can watch actually does the opposite for our kids.  They are working together, talking about the same thing, etc…  so I don’t mind it at all.

No Screen Time Until You Have…

These are the specific things kids have to do before they can have screen time!

  1. You have read for 20 minutes.   They can read it alone or with someone- I love to read with them.   Just let them jump into the story (and I can almost guarantee that they will be reading for much more than twenty minutes.  Our 8-year-old could get lost in a book for hours!)
  2. You have written your paragraph of the day and have finished your math problem of the day.   Every summer, each child gets a new writing journal and they write a paragraph each day.  (Our younger children will just write a few sentences and our toddler will just draw a picture).  I check it and date it.  At the end of the summer, we look back on their progress together and we all love to see how far they have come! They also get a math problem of the day (I usually just print one from the internet, or we use some of my old math workbooks from when I taught elementary school). The reason?  Children lose an average of 3 months of learning during the summer.  I don’t want our children to “lose” time… I want them to “gain” it, so we do a little work in the summer, too.  It makes going back to school so much easier, too!
  3. You have checked your room to be sure it is clean (the bed is made, lights are off, the fan is off, clothes are cleaned up, papers are off the floor). This is simply because we are all part of the family and we all do our part to help out around the house.
  4. You have done one of the following:  played with toys, played with your brothers, practiced your instrument, built something or made something with our DIY creativity kit, or whatever else you’ve found, that you can do that is creative for 30 minutes or more. ♥
  5. You have finished at least one of your everyday responsibilities/chores.  (ex: make the bed, put your clothes away)I have a second no-screen time until printable that I will send you, as well.   If you would like both (free) No Screen Time Until Printables, click here.  I will email them to for no screen time for kids until printable

Limiting screen time for kids was the best decision for our family as our kids are happier, argue less, entertain themselves more, and don’t ask for electronics or say “I’m Bored” when they aren’t being entertained.

I didn’t want our kids to be sitting alone, playing on a device, wasting hours a day in a virtual world…  while the real world passes them by.

teenage girl sitting on white bed looking at phone and headphones on
I want our kids to BE KIDS.  When they are grown, I want them to think back fondly on their childhood and remember the happy, fun times that they had while they were playing together, hanging out with friends, or playing a board game with Mickey & I.   While our kids might look back and remember their favorite day of the summer when they were playing ball outback as a family, they certainly won’t remember their best day of television. 

I hope this was helpful & gives you a great start into a new future! 🙂   Enjoy!

More posts you might like:

Scary Truth About Kids
pin for The scary truth about what's hurting our kids

60 screen-free activitiespin for 60 screen free activities

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Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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