This School Year’s Game Plan for Screen Time

parenting upstream in a go with the flow world

Guest Post by my friend Arlene Pellicane

{Scroll down for a great giveaway!}

When you walk into a cell phone store, you have a dizzying array of plans to choose from. In the same way you choose a cellular plan to suit your family’s needs, you need a digital plan for screen use in your home. How much time per day is allowed? Which shows, games, and social networks are approved? Without a working plan, your child’s time will erode into mindless screen time and entertainment that usually runs counter to everything you are trying to instill as a mother.

Maybe you are unhappy with how screen time went last year. Good news – the school year is around the corner and you have a new chance to put a plan in place.

Remember these are suggestions to get your brain in gear. Pick and choose what you need – remember you don’t have to replicate anyone’s plan including mine. You just need wisdom to devise the best plan for you and your kids (and stick with it). We’ll begin with the Pellicane game plan, otherwise known as “The Dinosaur Plan.”

None of our three kids have a gaming device, tablet, or phone. Now granted they are younger (ages 5, 8 and 10). But my 10-year-old son has never played Minecraft which puts him in an elite category!

The kids use our laptop for homework which ends up being about two hours a week. When James and I were first married sixteen years ago, he asked to do a “no-cable” trial period of one month. I agreed reluctantly and to make a long story short, we haven’t had cable since. We choose what the kids watch and use DVD time as a treat.

No video games exist in our home. Ethan’s in fifth grade and of course catches a lot of slack for not gaming. One night we talked it over at bedtime. “Mom, my friends say they feel sorry for me, but I feel sorry for them. They don’t read, or play the piano, or know martial arts. They just know how to play video games.”

I don’t include that to pat myself on the back.

I share it to give you courage: It’s okay to raise children who live differently than their peers.

This School Year's Game Plan for Screen Time

After all, the norm of kids who are addicted to screens is not helping our culture one bit. Here are some other ideas to consider for your plan:

The Priority List: Author Dannah Gresh realized when her kids transitioned to middle school, she would lose a lot of control over what they were watching. They needed to be able to self-moderate. She had her kids write down a list of their priorities. They wrote their list which included family, time with God, homework, soccer, piano, video games, and time with friends. They had them put them in order of importance which made them realize why they didn’t get to play video games until homework was done or chores were complete.

Dannah says, “Teaching consequential thinking skills was important so they could carry those limits into high school, college and beyond. Otherwise you’re just setting rules.”

Nighttime Round Up: Author and mom mentor Hannah Keeley collects all phones, tablets, and laptops at night around 10 pm – even with three college kids living at home. If any of her college kids need to work later on homework, they can ask her for that extra time. “We know what they are doing online because we keep the computers out where we can see them. Every night we have a time when we shut down and a place where all the electronics go.”

Track the Time: Our very own Kristen Welch observed that so many parents are unaware of how much their children are consuming on screens. She began by watching her children closely and then setting a time limit: thirty minutes on weekdays – kids pick the screen. They use a screen time chart to keep track. Sometimes they bend the rules to watch family movies, but generally during the week the house rule is 30 minutes a day. In the summers with more free time, the kids can earn screen time by reading.

Use a Timer: CWIVES founder Jennifer Degler employs a screen time manager – a handy BOB timer – to avoid screen time battles. She programs 30 minutes on each device and after that, the device just shuts off. If her children need more time on the computer, she can program that. Her teenage son said, “I just hate that TV timer; you are so controlling. You know I hope those are still around when I’m a parent because I’m going to use them on my kids.”

What are some screen smart guidelines you want to implement this year in your home?

Leave a comment with your answer and you’ll be entered to win Arlene’s brand new book: 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom.

Happy Mom cover

Bio: Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman). She has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah.

Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children.

To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit

And Now, I’d Like to Talk About mmmmilk

We love milk at our house. I don’t know if it’s because we go to my in-law’s farm every chance we get… IMG_1148
I don’t know if it’s because we have a long history of naming baby calves…
I don’t know if it’s because we eat grass-fed, fresh beef at least 3 times a week (thanks Nanny and Poppa)…
I don’t know if it’s because my kids like to dress like cows periodically…
My kids have always loved milk.
And I’m always looking for natural, healthy choices that don’t compromise rich taste.
For a report at school last year, my youngest wrote a two page essay on her favorite snack (and how to make it): chocolate milk.
It was a riveting report and she actually got acknowledged for the most descriptive paper.
I have a deep affection for chocolate milk and writing, so I was obviously proud of this winning combo.

So, when we were asked to try Shamrock Farms on-the-go mmmmilk sold at Walmart, my kids sat at the dining room table like thirsty little people. I didn’t have to ask twice.

“Mom, this chocolate milk is delicious.”


“The strawberry milk is so good.”

“Mom, show them how fast I can drink the whole thing and how loud I can burp.” (I will spare you the video).

“Mom, does this make me a milk model now?”


You get the point. They loved it. And after dinner, they asked for more. (They also offered to pose for more pictures. Bless my shy children.)

These cute little 2% bottles of Shamrock Farms on-the-go mmmmilk come in 2% chocolate and strawberry and whole white milk and they are only $1 each at Walmart. Shamrock Farms mmmmilks are pure, fresh and nutritious with no added hormones.

And we think they are the perfect drink for lunch boxes or after school snacks.

(Plus, we love these healthy yummy summer snack recipes that go great with milk!)


Shamrock Farms is having a great back to school giveaway where one lucky winner will receive nearly $5,000 ($4,999) in gift cards to stock up on back-­to-­school supplies, groceries and a new wardrobe. Enter online at from now until August 20.

Win today! Answer this question: What do you like to pack in your child’s lunchbox? in the comment section. Each comment will automatically be entered to win a $100 Walmart gift card.  

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Entry Instructions:

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You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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