Mel came up with a brilliant way to put her kids in charge of monitoring their own screen time:
I got tired of being the boss of when my kids (three and five) could watch videos and DVDs. I also wanted to help them learn to make choices about media consumption while they’re still young. So I decided to set up a ticket system.
Every Friday, they each get tickets (purple for one kid, green for the other) that can be redeemed for ½ hour of “TV” time. I keep them on the fridge, so the kids can access them easily. They rip one off when they would like to watch something and give it to me. I always say yes, unless there’s a reason that it absolutely can’t work (like we need to leave in 15 minutes, or someone absolutely needs to use the computer). I want to give them the experience of making their own choices and practising delayed gratification. Whatever tickets haven’t been used at the end of the week are deposited into a “book bank,” where they magically transform into $1 per ticket that can be spent on books, which we would have been spending anyway. (Goes a long way at our local thrift store!)
We started up this system about five months ago, and it has worked wonderfully in our house. I don’t get nagged about “TV,” they’ve learned to think through their choices, feel a sense of control and empowerment… and the joy of having their very own books. Everybody’s happy!
We've been using a simpler magnet system around here (15 minutes of game or TV time per magnet, 4 given out per day, can be used any time on weekdays after homework and routines are done but before dinner, extras can be used during the weekend). So fantastic, especially for kids who aren't "go with the flow" types and need structure. Having a visual and tactile cue about how much time they have really helps them understand what it means.
Related: Print your own "screen time" tickets