Raise your hand if your child loves using a tablet. *everyone’s hand in the world goes up*
Digital devices are everywhere these days. And it’s pretty common for kids to use screen devices, such as tablets, computers, and TVs, all the time – even for educational purposes.
For kids with ADHD, though, excessive screen time can pose some serious problems. While it’s unlikely that watching TV will cause ADHD, it can certainly worsen the symptoms. Many television programs and movies are designed to cater to short attention spans, which is something that people with ADHD do not need help developing. Not to mention that an excessive amount of screen time can actually contribute to behavioral problems in some kids, including aggression, irritability, and hyperactivity.
Personally, I don’t know if screen time is actually worsening my kids’ ADHD, but I do know that when they watch it for too long, they have an extremely difficult time settling down, listening, and paying attention afterward. So in our family, we use very clear screen time limits for kids and they seem to be working for us. Here are a few of the suggestions we’ve tried.
Setting Screen Time Limits for Kids with ADHD
Set a daily allotment of screen time.
On school days, we have a limit of no more than one hour of screen time per day. When we’re doing a relaxed day, I might let them watch more, depending on the content. If they want to watch a documentary, I don’t mind if it’s three hours long. If they want to watch Phineas and Ferb, I set the limit to no more than two episodes. They get so worked up after Phineas and Ferb that I can just forget about getting anything else productive done that day. 🙂
Time it right.
If I want my kids to take a nap in the afternoon, I’ve found that I simply cannot let them watch television or play a video game that morning. They won’t settle down enough to rest. So, if I intend for them to take a nap, I save screen time until after they get up from resting.
We also don’t watch television with them in the evenings. TV after dinner means an extremely lengthy wind-down period before bed. If we watch anything with them, we try to do so before 5 p.m. That way, we have about three hours before bedtime to help them begin calming down.
Tie screen time to schoolwork.
In our family, the kids have to earn screen time based on their schoolwork for that day. I make a list of assignments or topics we have to cover that day. If we get through them all and their work is up to par, they earn screen time at the end of the day.
We do complete some school assignments on the computer. But I try to use low-intensity programs and websites such as Khan Academy and Essential Skills Advantage. They don’t have the loud noises and frenetic action of some other educational sites, and I notice that my kids do a better job of focusing when we use them.
Have you struggled with setting screen time limits for kids with ADHD in your family? How do you avoid excessive screen time with your kids? Let us know in the comments!
This post is part of the 31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling series! Stop by tomorrow for Day 27: How to Increase Attention Span in ADHD Kids!
Full Spectrum Mama says
VERY clear and usable guidelines. I am pretty strict with my two (my son’s on the spectrum and could just disappear into that world…), but I recently tried a whole screen-time-earning chart thinger and just got EXHAUSTED. this is more simple.
My son earns 15 minutes of screen time per homework completed. Sometimes he reads a book or does a chore he is not assigned to to earn another 15 minutes. Usually he earns 2 hours of screen time one way or another daily. It does take a longer time for him to fall asleep even after a bath if he watches past 7pm. On days that he can binge watch (the first day of a break for examble) does turn in a totally unproductive day. SO for those parent who can be strict and consistent, do control screeen time and help your child structure other activiteis (or early sleep).
Selena Robinson says
I love that! It’s always good to have kids earn their time and, when you use a set increment, they have even more of a reason to do their assignments around the home.
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
I know that I need to limit screen time more. I even got super motivated and made a chart and explained the guidelines. They got a certain amount of free screen time after finishing school work and then after dinner. With the potential to earn more (or lose some).
My issue (besides running out of energy to stay on top of it) was the continuous questions of when they can be on their tablets again, or if they can watch tv now, or use the computer to watch/play. Every. Single. Minute.
So as per my usual fashion, I got frustrated and gave up trying to monitor their usage.
Any tips for a mom whose just ready to throw in the towel and give up on having any control at home? lol
Nicolle Embra says
I love hearing about the many ways that families manage their screentime! It is encouraging to hear that parents are promoting balanced lifestyles for their children. Great Digital Parenting!