Kids using mobile devices

Last school holidays an image was doing the rounds on the internet. It got a heap of likes by Hills District Mums. The concept was a School Holiday Checklist that needs to be completed daily by kids to earn screen time (iPad/TV/etc). It went something like this.


Fantastic idea we thought, we will write an article on this and encourage it for the school holidays! So we sat down and reality hit. So this means when the kids get up they won’t be able to watch TV or play the iPad in the morning? Well, that isn’t ideal. How do you have a coffee in peace and catch up on the news and check in to Facebook?!

In your ideal world, your kids would happily go through the checklist without any encouragement needed, but in the real world we know they’re going to carry on a treat and you won’t get the peace you’re after. And it’s not fair for them to get NO screen time yet Mum or Dad can? So already the actual logistics of this were setting in and we were quickly deciding it was a pretty crappy idea!

Rather than dismiss it completely we contacted our good friend and psychologist, Dr Amanda Mullin from Mindworx Psychology to get her thoughts. If she decided it was a great idea then we’d give it a crack. Her response:

There are a few of these doing the rounds. I’m not big on mandating what kids do in the holidays. There’s a part of me that feels these lists turn playtime into a chore to tick off….and unstructured play is important. But then in my house in the holidays some days my kids don’t get dressed at all, and they don’t have to make their beds ever! Holidays are definitely our down time.

If I was making a list it would have to include being bored for at least an hour – being bored leads to creative play. What about if there was no screen time at all on certain days (that’s what we do) rather than making it a daily event?

And that’s why we love this woman! She always makes sense.

Our parenting style is based on everything in moderation. If they’re about to spend a busy day out and about with no technology, 1 hour of iPad in the morning as we get ready isn’t going to kill them. But we’re guilty of saying yes to screen time too readily when boredom sets in.

So instead of a screen time rules checklist, we’re going to advocate for a School Holiday FUN Checklist – things to do when you’re bored that don’t involve screen time. Have a go mums!

  • get a huge box and turn it into something, anything!
  • attempt to break a world/family record (e.g. tallest Lego tower, most pancakes eaten for breakfast, fastest lap around the block on scooters)
  • bake something
  • create a sandcastle
  • write your own book (for young ones this can just be pictures)
  • direct and star in your own show/concert
  • make a claymation movie
  • raid the recycling and construct something
  • make a fairy garden using a tray and things collected in garden
  • plant seeds
  • make a large chalk mural
  • set up your own lemonade stall
  • have a mini garage sale/ toy swap
  • take a bath until your skin prunes up
  • build a fort.