The Five Penny Rule: Managing Our Young Ones' Screen Time


As a stay at home mom to {now} three little ones {ages 4.5, 2, and newborn}, I have to admit how easy it is to allow my TV to come to my rescue from time to time. Maybe you know what I'm talking about. On those days when I'm not feeling well or one of my kiddos aren't feeling well, it's almost a "no brainer" to allow things like Comcast and Netflix swoop in to save the day and pacify the situation. My husband and I aren't always weak to this temptation, though.

After reading research articles and speaking with the pediatrician, we came to agree how important it is to actually put a cap on how much exposure our little ones get to things like TV or even electronics/video games. We now know that 2 hours a day should really be the most "TV time" our kids have. This will help them to build important skills they need for school and everyday life. We've decided, in our home, to abide by this 2 hour maximum and have found a technique to make it easy for our little ones to keep track of their own screen time.

{I'd like to add that screen time for us is not just TV. We also consider items like the LeapPad, V.Reader, and other video games to count toward screen time.}

Upon recommendation from a fellow co-worker of my husband, we've implemented the "5 Penny Rule". It's been very simple to use and we've had no issues with transition to this. Basically, the rule is that each child is given 5 pennies a day. Each penny counts as 20 minutes of screen time that can be used toward watching a show or part of a movie {if the child chooses to not use multiple pennies to watch the whole movie}, playing on the LeapPad or V.Reader, or playing a video game {we have a V.Motion system for the little ones}. If, for example, my son wants to watch a show on Netflix, he gets a penny from his dish and politely asks if he can watch one. I take the penny and put it aside and set the timer while he settles in for his show. As soon as the timer goes off, the show goes off. It's as easy as that. And if he uses up all of his pennies in the morning, he doesn't get any more.

Also, in the Five Penny Rule, there are NO ROLL-OVER minutes. This means that he can't use today's minutes tomorrow should he have a penny left over. We don't want him to go over the time we've allotted for him. I've learned to beware of the temptation to give in also. If I stick to the boundary, my kiddos will learn to respect it and me.

I'm a HUGE fan of this rule and am so happy we've started using it. I'm not the bad guy anymore. If the pennies aren't there, they aren't there. It's no longer seen as my saying "No" because I'm in a bad mood or I don't like my children...my son used to suspect that I didn't like him if I told him "No". This has eliminated battles in my home and made room for more constructive play and together time.

I can't forget to add that we DO enjoy special nights like "Movie Nights" in our home. These nights are always parent initiated and don't cost any pennies. We pick up the tab on that. ;)

How about you? How do you handle things like Screen Time in your home? Are there any other battles you face that you've developed strategies for? {I love trading tips with other moms so don't be shy.}

**I received no compensation for this post. Also, this is not a review for any of the mentioned children's electronics. This is strictly based on my opinion and my experience in parenting my children. Others may not agree.**

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