For several years of elementary school, we disallowed screen time on school days. It started as a means of countering school refusal and it worked well for us for a few years.
I engaged in “control and oversight of the screens.” The screen he most liked to use was my tablet, so I exercised my “property rights” and deleted all of his games from my tablet and I hid it before I left to pick him up from school so that it was not a temptation.
Also, the computer in his room was not connected to the internet and was not the attractive interactive device the tablet was. It was later removed from his room.
Finally, we have only one TV in a central area which I can be aware of when it was used and I was happy to disconnect from the internet cable if I need to.
The third step was to be very clear with him as to what the new rules were – I developed visual checklist for school days and what he needed to do to get screen time on the weekend.
Fourth was to be very patient and loving as he “detoxed” from getting screen time before and after school. He melted down, hitting me and crying, and I had to be patient and tell him that I am sorry he was frustrated.
Finally, there were no more fights about going to school – in fact, he started to fight and stopped himself on his own. I was very proud of him.
A behavioralist said we should expect an “extinction burst” where he will fight the new reality, that it was not that the new way was not working, and that we should just power through it.
In summary, the steps to no screen time on a school day steps were:
1. Event or circumstance necessitating the change;
2. Control and oversight of the screens;
3. Clear explanation of the rules;
4. Patience with his pain in adapting to the new reality; and
5. Power through the “extinction burst.”
Never on a School Day strategies for managing screen time is also on YouTube – give it a watch!