Most mornings our son does a modest amount of school work around breakfast time to earn free time on the computer. He has a limited menu of options on the iPad and computer from which to choose. We also restrict access to sites that seem most distracting to him to every other day (he alternates between Minecraft and Animal Jam right now).
In the beginning, I used simple handmade cards with the words "30 Minutes of Computer Free Time" as a tangible reward, but he got the concept so quickly that we dropped the cards.
We do however still use a strike system. Negative behaviors receive strikes (including excessive whining), and if he gets three of them, then no game time at all.
To avoid technology overload, we use two timers: one set for 25 minutes and another set for 30. This gives him a five-minute warning that facilitates a transition.
This strategy works for us because:
1. He has a clear goal in mind to meet each morning, which helps nurture executive functioning skills
2. He understands what is expected of him in terms of output and attitude.
3. He is motivated to "play by the rules" because he values the reward.
4. We feel more comfortable putting firm limits on computer usage.
5. We value a rewards system so that he understands that using technology strictly for pleasure is a privilege for him.
Watch and listen to your kids. Find out what motivates them. Then work with that motivation rather than against it;pair it with your own expectations for behavior and progress.
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