November 16, 2023

How I made my kids accountable for their screen time…with one simple trick

How to make your kids accountable for their screen time

We all live in a world now where screens are becoming a part of regular family life. I heard a recent statistic that an average Australian household has 6 devices in their home! I was shocked at first, but when I counted ours up (including TV’s) that is bang on!

My son is of the ‘Minecraft‘ and ‘Terraria‘ phase and he just LOVES them. He talks about them at school with his friends, watches YouTube tutorials and genuinely enjoys them. I am ok with that…however, I do believe that screen time should not only be limited but in my opinion, should be earned. I started to get annoyed with him coming home from school and the iPad be his first point of call for entertainment. We’ve always got Playdough, Silly Putty, Colouring Books, Toys and plenty of other things to amuse him in the house. I finally decided to do something about it.

I made these paddlepop sticks and when he completes a chore, he can have his device for the amount of time that is allotted to that chore!

Screen Accountability Paddle Pops

Both of my kids now WANT to do chores! It helps me immensely and the kids are enjoying it because they know they are going to ‘earn something’ in return. It’s a win/win!

To make your own simply purchase some large Paddlepop sticks from you local $2 or Craft Store, get yourself a permanent marker and write down some chores you’d like your kids to do and allot some time.

So easy and OH so effective!

I put down some age appropriate chores for my kids, but you can put anything you like!

How to make your kids accountable for their screen time sticks

You can learn more about Age Appropriate Chores for Kids by visiting our lovely friend The Organised Housewife‘s site here.

Let us know how you go with this simple trick!

Jenni & Louise xx

Jen x

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32 thoughts on “How I made my kids accountable for their screen time…with one simple trick

  1. I’m just curious for some more ideas, what did you put on your sticks? When I go to do my son’s chore list I draw a blank every time and forget everytging. Lol.

    1. Hi Kristen,

      I’ve got:

      Put lunchbox in school bag – 5 minutes
      Pack the Dishwasher – 10 mins
      Make your bed – 5 mins
      Dust shelves – 15 mins
      Clean inside the car – 15 min
      Clear the table – 10 min
      Feed the Fish – 5 min
      Put away your washing – 10 min
      Wipe down bathroom – 15 mins
      Set the table – 10 min

      to name a few

      I hope this helps!


      1. Put out the rubbish
        Bring in the recycling bin
        Walk the dog
        Unload the dishwasher
        Wash the pots and pans
        Dry the dishes
        Make dinner (teenager prepared to eat some dreadful meals!)

  2. Hi Kristen

    My 7 year old daughter is exactly the same. She is obsessed with Minecraft.
    As soon as she comes home from school, straight to her ipad and she watches the tutorials on YouTube as well.
    Need to try the paddle pop sticks idea.

    Thanks for the tips, it really does come in handy.

    1. We do something similar, but my kids also have to read a book or magazine for 20 minutes before screentime may begin.

  3. This is a fantastic idea! My little one is too tiny for screen time just yet (9 months) but I see kids all over with their faces glued to their tablets or parents phones! Drives me nuts! But I thought of a great addition to to the idea, when I do this I think I will add some in that aren’t just chores but also outdoors activities/playing, creative /craft time, reading etc… Stuff that will also be fun and beneficial to their little minds and bodies and maybe give those extra time to make them “worth more” or vice versa

  4. Omg! I absolutely love this! My boys are also into the whole minecraft thing and listen and watch the videos non-stop! it gets aggravating going to sleep listening to them waking up to them coming home for lunch and coming home after work listening to them, it’s like oh my goodness that is enough! I practically beg my kids to go outside and play or even sometimes to fall and get hurt. I have 3 boys V(9) I(6) and T(3). and I swear T has been hurt and to the hospital and doctor more times than my other 2. I’m not sure why or how it works but I think I will do sticks with outside activities. My boys do their chores most of the time with no questions asked, before I get home from work. At first it was hard for me being a stay at home mom for so many years and letting go and letting the boys help me. I had to learn I could not do it all by myself like I did before it was over whelming and now they take turns by the week. V cleans the bathroom every other day. V and I both fold and put their own clothes away I fold T and he puts away his clothes. since they started walking they have been putting their clothes away, as well as put their shoes where they go, its not much but it does help in the long run. V and I take turns weekly chore 1: cleaning the Living room, sweeping the dining room and clearing the dishes from living room if any. chore 2: clearing the dining room of dishes and sweeping the kitchen and emptying the dishwasher and filling the dishwasher and getting it started. Those chores are an everyday thing no questions asked. the rest is whenever wash and sort day is, and at least one weekend a month I totally deep clean everything I move couches and dust and walls get scrubbed. everything is done in one weekend and when that happens they do what they’re asked. I love this idea with the sticks and I will be using it by next week thank you for this!

    1. Hi sheila,
      Would you please help me with ways to help me get my son used to such chores,, how did you teach your boys to do so by time ? My son is 4&3 months now ?? Thanks dear đŸ™‚

  5. Hi
    Great idea but I am stuck on beginning this new system. I have 2 kids (10 and 8) So do I need to prepare 2 jars (1 each) or 1 jar with all different chores on sticks.
    Some chores need to Be for each of them(making their beds, feeding their own fish) sound crazy but it’s hard for me to figure it out.

    1. Hi Julie,

      I have three boys (4, 8, 11)… If there is a chore that each of them needs to do, like make their bed, I put three of those labeled sticks in one jar. Makes for a pretty full jar, but it works for me.

      1. Maybe it will help if you put it in their own jars not just because three tasks are the same but also because some chores are age appropriate Eg. I would never let my 6 year old pick up dog poop or wash dishes but my 11 year old are able to.

    2. My plan for my three kids, is to use either different colored sticks, or different colored ink for each child.

    3. What if you give each child a different color marker so they know whose chores are for them? Then you could just use one jar.

  6. My thoughts on screen time and kids

    First, parents should not block anything unless they see something inappropriate is happening on their devices like porn video.

    Second, as a parent, we should have digital control over kids’ devices – if they are wasting time and playing games every time, you should monitor and control the usage – This can include weekly screen-time limits, limits on the kinds of screens kids can use.

    Be Happy!

    1. Raising my 3 Grandsons, 2 of whom are on the Autism Spectrum, I find more Parental Controls necessary than just blocking pornography. Many of the Youtube videographers let some blue words, and/or frequent references to bodily functions into their videos. It becomes a source of MONTHS of re-correction.
      In reference to the second point, this chore method is a great idea of regulating your children’s time!

  7. These ideas are often temporarily successful, but do not change behavior in the long term. My kids help around the house because that is the expectation. Most days, they are helpful. We have off days, but those are dealt with individually and peacefully. While I understand that ideas like this seem cute and harmless and fun, the book Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn explains the reasons, and the research, why we should stay away from ideas like this.

    1. I always preferred the message to my kids that we all clean bc we l live here and we’re all responsible. I think tablets now like regular toys are part of their play and how they play. I limit screen time daily but I would have this limit anyway, and what if this backfires and the kid just decided well I don’t feeljke doing chores today so I don’t care if I sit play my ipad. The only thing one there is less screentime but now they are not helping around the house
      . So I get where you’re coming from

  8. Thanks alot kristen for sharing such a helpful idea with us , i’ll do so with my son too but i’m afraid he won’t understand time duration as he is 4 & 3 months old but i tgunk i’ll set a timer

  9. Great idea!! I tried it with my 3 children ranging ages of 12,10,7. It worked from the first day and is still working.
    Thanks for the idea

    1. Hi Valerie, that’s so great to hear! We’re glad we could help! Thanks so much for letting us know đŸ™‚

  10. We started this recently! My son LOVES it. He is actually more into trying to earn the screen time that he forgets to use the time he’s earned. For our ‘tasks’ some of the things he does are things he should be doing already (showering, nightly reading, homework, etc) but we are part of are 2 house family arena there is no structure at his dad’s and he gets to do what he wants when he wants… too ‘busy’ to reat and do homework, that’s ok… makes trying to structure at my house a fight. So, for now, if he fights me on those things, he still has to do them but no screen time… needless to say, he doesn’t fight things as much! Thank you for the awesome idea!!!

  11. Great idea! Does anyone know of an app that monitors and limits time kids or each user can use iPad or phone?

  12. A fantastic idea. It can be really difficult to keep them off their screen’s, especially when friends are using them quite often too. This is not only helpful in keeping them accountable but removes the power struggle and making mom or dad seem like the “bad guy” for taking the tablet.

  13. We implemented no iPad during the week because it was an issue. We still allow video games and tv (with limits)because they are not as in to those. Still love this idea and plan to use it. Thank you!

  14. How many sticks do you let your kid choose per day? My girls get overboard with their screen time and I think with this method, they would rush through these chore sticks, just to use the time on their screens. So before I know it, they are back to an hr plus daily!

  15. Brilliant idea! I love it and what a way to get the little ones involved in cleaning up. I am a mom abroad living in Korea. My children were born here and everywhere you look kids and adults are zone into their devices. I am guilty of this too. Before having children, I never thought I would let my mine have devices at an early age. But they have used them and for Christmas my mother sent them each a tablet PC. I will be implementing this. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Here is what we add to the mix.
    1.) Clean your room (Make bed, put ALL books on shelves, clothes in the hamper, and make sure NOTHING is left on the floor.)
    2.) Clean Cat litter
    3.) Pick up toys in the family room.
    (These are all prerequisites to ANY screen time. Because you live here too, and not everything in life is transactional)
    THEN we add individual chores, each has its own screen time reward.
    Put away dishes, and other age-appropriate tasks, if we have no chores for her:
    In the US, with a stay at homeschooling, we have specific math And reading applications available from the school (Yes, on a screen) and I let my 9-year-old daughter get 1 minute of screen time for every one minute spent on the math or reading app (30 minutes minimum on the app, nothing less) She can earn 2-hour MAX screen time.
    I noticed two things last summer (2020)
    1.) After two hours of App time, she rarely wanted, asked for, or talked about more screen time.
    2.) She had completed 50% of 4th-grade math before she even started the school year.
    3.) most days, we had a nice picked up house with kids room taken care of!

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