How to Limit the Screen Time of a 7-Year-Old

Kids love technology in all of its forms: gaming systems, laptops, iPads, smartphones, desktop computers, cell phones, and so much more. They try to get a hold of it any chance they get, but it is unhealthy for kids to be on electronics all of the time.

Because of this, a lot of parents have started enforcing screen time in their homes.

How do I limit the screen time of a 7-year-old? Set a routine schedule in place from day one that your kids learn to follow. Place rules on how your child can earn screen time and how much they are allowed to have per day or week. Be sure to always enforce the rules and regulations you have set in place so that retaliation is less likely to occur.

You could also set a screen time tracking app up on your kids’ devices so that you can monitor how much and where your kid is using their screen time. 

Screen time or technology regulation in the home is vital to ensure a balanced lifestyle in the home. Without regulations or controlled habits set in place, electronics will be prioritized over everything in your home which can harm the functionality and rationality of your family members.

The screens become the ultimate focus instead of bonding, learning, health, and even physically socializing.

What is “Screen Time” and Why Should I Care?

There has been a major increase in technology use in everyday life, especially in the last few years. Everything revolves around electronic devices no matter what it is.

It surrounds our everyday lives and can even suffocate us with all the screens being thrown at us.

Learning? Check. Schools are doing electronic-based learning especially as kids progress into higher grades for grading systems, classroom tools, and much more. Even most homework is being placed online now.

Work? Check. I don’t know a single job that does not involve something electronic being a part of even just clocking in and out or taking orders.

Entertainment? Check! Check! CHECK! Entertainment is ALL ABOUT electronics nowadays between Netflix, XBox, social media, television, even communicating with relatives or loved ones and so much more.

Because of this constant suffocation of devices and technology in our everyday lives, people have started to enforce “Screen Time” in their homes.

This is to help enforce a balance between technology throughout our lives and natural human activity and interaction that is necessary for proper health both physically and mentally.

Screen Time is a system in which technology and electronic use is limited and monitored. This enforces regulations of leisure electronic use so that household members maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Without this regulation of electronic use, especially for children, they can start to become addicted to these entertainment vices. This can result in a lot of negative behaviors such as anger, impatience, lack of attention span, unnecessary tantrums, and more.

This addiction to electronic distraction can even lead to a lack of social development as well because kids will often drown themselves in this artificial entertainment instead of having face to face conversations and physical activities with others.

By enforcing screen time regulations in your home, you are helping your kids to learn regulation and balance in their lifestyle. They learn how to entertain themselves in ways other than binging their favorite Netflix show or playing Subway Surfers for hours on end.

It can also help them to connect with people more in person and face to face. This helps them to grow more mentally and socially and prepares them more for their future in handling people and social situations in their adult life.

By enforcing electronic regulations, you are helping your child to continue growing at a pace they should and helping teach them the importance of lifestyle balance.

How Can I Enforce Screen Time Limitations in My Own Home?

Understanding that a “screen time” regulation is necessary and enforcing one are two completely different battles. I am here to help you though.

Below I have included some ways you can enforce Screen Time protocol in your home to help alleviate from a technologically swamped environment.

Have a Routine Before They are Allowed to Use their Devices

After I got home from school when I was younger, my mom always had a list of things we had to do before we were allowed to have t.v. time etc. This list consisted of a few daily chores, having some non-electronic play time, and doing all of our homework.

Once we got our assigned chores done, all of our homework for the day done, and have spent some time playing with physical toys or outside, then we were allowed to watch some t.v. before or after dinner for a little while.

A lot of moms have a similar routine. This routine is basically completing a list of things to do before allowing screen time for their children.

This list can include a multitude of things to do.

To Do’s Before Screen Time:

  • Put away shoes, backpacks, jackets, etc.
  • Read for a set amount of time
  • Daily chores (by their choices or a list given to them)
  • Play outside for a set time
  • Play with physical toys for a set amount of time
  • Social interaction
  • Learn something new
  • Play with siblings or friends

After your child has completed their list of “Pre-Screen-Time To Do’s” then they are allowed to play on their devices for the set amount of time or timeframe you give them. 

Turn Wifi Access Off at Bedtime

Another way to help limit your household’s screen time is to set a regulator on your Wifi router that shuts off the internet connection at bedtime. This is a little harder to do so, but some internet providers have such settings that you can place on your router upon request.

One of the providers that I know has this exclusive software is Google Wifi. Call your Wifi provider company and ask if they have such regulatory features and how you can set them up.

Add Screen Time Tracking Software/App on Their Devices

There are many apps out there that you can download on your kid’s devices that will track how much they are using their device and even where they are going for entertainment on their devices as well.

This software will even shut down your child’s device when their screen time is all used up.

These apps can often link up to a monitoring profile that you can place on your device to track all of your kids’ screen time from one location.

Screeen Time Regulation Software/Apps:

  • OurPact
  • ScreenLimit
  • Screen Time Parental Control
  • Qustodio Parental Control
  • ESET Parental Control
  • Norton Family Parental Control
  • Limited Screen Time Control 
  • TimeAway
  • ParentKit

All of these apps are well rated and have great parental regulation features. They are FREE and available for both iOS and Android devices as well.

Make Kids Earn Their Screen Time

A way that you can enforce your kids regulating screen time AND choosing healthy or helpful activities and habits they can do is to set up a system where your kids have to do stuff to earn certain amounts of screen time. 

In this system, you will have a chart of different activities like I listed above such as different chores, exercise activities, outdoor or indoor playing, and even hanging out with others.

On this chart next to each different incentive activity, you have a certain amount of screen time that each activity is worth. Your child will check in with you for each activity that they ar going to do.

After they do these activities, they can use their screen time they have earned. They can use this time in little spurts or collect their time chunks to use in a larger time period.

Have a Phone/Device Charging Station

A method that some of my aunts and uncles use are having device stations in their homes. This station is placed in a common area of the house but is out of sight and out of mind, in a room such as the dining room where people don’t usually go unless they have a true purpose. 

Once people get home for the day, they place their devices on this station and leave them there unless the device is being used. Having this really helps to have the distracting devices in a safe place where they aren’t constantly a distraction.

Having a device station that electronics stay on and charge on helps to solve the problem of having electronic distractions at bedtime as well because the devices’ chargers are hooked up to this central location away from bedrooms.

You can often find device stations that have racks or slots for each different device and USB ports so that chargers can all be plugged into it as well to keep the devices charged while they sit around. 

Incentives for Lack of Screen Usage

Another method that I found to work on your household using their electronic devices less is having incentives for not using your devices.

For example, if your kid goes on a cell phone/smartphone fast for a few days or a week, they get rewarded at the end of their fast.

These rewards are completely up to the parents and should vary in degree of how much electronic time is being given up. 

How Much is Not Enough or Overboard?

The amount of screen time your child gets is ultimately up to you to decide and regulate. You are the parent and can decide what is best for the current situation. 

For 7-year-olds, it is recommended to have a maximum of four hours of screen time total per day. This includes any t.v., hand-held device, or computer. 

What my mom did is she never had a specific number of times for how long we could be on electronics. Instead, she would have us complete a list of daily tasks, as I stated before, that we had to complete before getting any privileges.

After we completed this list of tasks (i.e. chores, homework, play with dogs, feed fish, play outside, etc.) then we were allowed to go on the t.v. or our devices until dinner time or until she said time was up.

This time frame generally lasted about a couple hours total for the day and then we would have to hang out with the family or do other electronic-independent activities like reading for the rest of our free time. 

Are There Exceptions I Should Have for the Screen Time Rules?

Some exceptions for screen time regulation in your family are 100% acceptable and I would even encourage them! These exceptions should be for special occasions! 

Exceptions to this rule generally can be when going to the doctor, going on a trip, having a special lazy weekend, getting a reward for exceptional behavior, and whatever else you may deem worthy of such exceptions. 

During these “exempt” times, you should still enforce some distractions and time away from the devices to still maintain some balance and not turn your kids into electronic-crazed-zombies.

However, it doesn’t have to be quite as big of a deal as it would otherwise be.

What Are Some Ways I Can Distract My Family From Being Screen-Focused?

Sometimes, in this tech-focused world, it is hard to find ways to take a break and distract from the many electronics swarming our lifestyles.

There are plenty of ideas I have listed below for you and your family to all do together to have time away from those pesky devices.

Electronic-Free Activities:

  • Go on a walk or hike
  • Go camping
  • Have a game night
  • Play in the yard together
  • Work on a family garden
  • Go to a dance/workout class without age restrictions
  • Go to the park
  • Make dinner/dessert together
  • Try a fun craft
  • Go fishing
  • Go to the public pool
  • Spend the afternoon at the zoo
  • Take the family bowling

Along with these and any other ideas you may come up with are great ideas on ways to not just get away from electronic distractions together, but also to help you have a fun outing as a family and bond more.

Related Questions:

When is the best time for my kid to have screen time? The best time to give them screen time is around dinner usually. This is a short period of time in which dinner pulls them away from their electronics and helps to cause a bit less of a fuss.

It also is a time of day where moms get tired and need a break and the kids have finished all of their work for the day as well.

How do I place these regulations if I didn’t start when the kids were young? Simply have a family meeting to discuss the problem and the new plan to fix it. Let them know about your plan with the regulations as well.

Be more lenient towards the beginning as you are all still adjusting to the new protocol and then get stricter as they have time to get used to the rules.

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