Game Time.... Making your kids devices work for you and not against you
How to make your kids devices work for you rather than against you!
Ever think to yourselves... Wow I wish my kids would help out a little more? Or Why would you choose to play a video game in your lap when we have this beautiful country passing by? Well you aren’t the only ones- not the first and definitely not the last!
During week 1 of our big lap adventure I was trying to figure out how to make the best of all the devices the boys had access to. They each have A Nintendo 2DS, we have a hard drive of all the family movies and they each have a simple Onyx Android tablet (mainly for school work but some fun apps too), which was something we gifted to them on Departure day, as a big thank you for committing to the trip with us.
As a regular rule in our household pre trip- there was no TV or use of our iPads (except homework apps) during the school week- only on weekends, so this transition was rather easy with minimal complaints. Usually on big car trips they can play their DS in the car, but only whilst bubs is asleep.
Day 1 when the boys where given their new tablets- there was obviously a huge novelty of finally having their own ‘tablet’. And so as expected they didn’t put them down for a while- sussing out all the new apps and the different set up (in comparison to my iPad). Then when Wade had fallen asleep- away went the tablets and out come the Nintendos..... I started to wonder what kind of habits could start to form. I mean we will be on a road trip of a lifetime and for a minimum 6 months and who knows how much longer if all goes to plan. That afternoon, the boys completed their first day of on-road schooling and I decided I needed to get creative about this and I starting putting together some ideas to devise a points system.
Day 3 after I had shared my ideas with Ryan we broke it to the boys that we were going to limit their game time, but that they had the power to earn extra playing minutes for being conscientious and helpful. I had devised a plan that they, through helping out and completing school work, would earn points from us. 1 point equaled 1 minute of game time on either their tablet or their DS. They could choose which device (day depending), and within reason when they would like to use their points, but with a usage cap of 90 points per sitting. By Day 10 we had tweaked the point system so now it is working extremely well for us and as a bonus the kids were super happy with it too.
So here is what we do.
School Work is every morning for 1 hour after breaky and they get 15 points. Then when they complete their evening school work (reading their book to us and writing in their travel journal) they get another 15 points. So each day the boys complete all their school work they earn half an hour of game time.
For every chore or thing they do to help us, we will give an non-specific amount of points depending on the chore and how they went about it (ie. were they asked to do it, did they ask us to do it or did they complain the whole time haha). These would be things like; helping with Wade, taking the bin bags to the big bins, doing the washing up, helping cook or prepare meals, writing shopping lists with us, helping do the shopping, set up or pack up of the campsite, packing away beds each morning, helping to wash the clothes in the Scrubba and so on.
Then we will award bonus points for things like neat handwriting, extra reading, super polite behaviour (to us, each other and new people we meet), working together to accomplish things, helping occupy Mr. Wade when he wants some extra attention, going to bed on time, showing initiative and doing things without being asked etc.
But rest assure as well behaved as our kids are, they can be little gremlins at times too- so insert the point deduction part of the system. This can be for things like silly behaviour, sulking (Mr 6.5 y.o), attitude (Mr 8.5 y.o), being asked too many times to do/ or stop something, hurting each other or basically anything we feel is not cool.
Sound simple enough? Well we can confirm that for us- it is! And this system has been working a treat with our kids and not only are we not having to do everything around the camp anymore, school work is completed properly and promptly each morning, the boys are learning to be conscientious, more domesticated, polite, helpful and all 3 boys are getting along really really well (this is great considering they are now in each other’s pockets 100% of the time)! They are even asking us for jobs to do, asking us if they can sit in with Wade and play, and then just doing things they see need doing (not 100% of the time, but more than they ever used to at home).
Another great side lesson is that they are leaning to save! Collecting up points to play longer and especially on the games they really love (Pokémon on the DS's). The boys are spending lots more time in the outdoors (more than ever before)..... just like all good growing boys (and girls) should; cruising around on their dirt scooters, meeting new kids/ and adults, going swimming, climbing trees- the list just keeps growing. The boys value their game time so much more now and it’s like saving money- which is great as they are effectively investing their savings each time they choose to play.
We decided to keep the boys in familiar routine, same as home- so Monday to Sunday- points are redeemable on their tablet, but Friday lunch through til Sunday night can they use points for the DS too. To add a touch of downtime for us all, we do a family movie night 2-3 times a week as a treat (using the laptop or projector) which are always really nice for everyone.
The boys asked about earning money last week, for when we go into new funky places and I said I’ll come up with a conversion rate for points to $AUD. Currently we are thinking maybe 1 point to 20 cents?!?
We are hopeful that helping out around the camp and incorporating new routines will become habit (not a chore) for the boys and then we will switch the points system over from earning points to just given free time for reward. But until then- this is working a treat for us.
I hope you enjoyed the read and have found some great ideas that might help game time to be more beneficial for your family too.
As our trip continues, I look forward to sharing many more blogs with you- so please be sure to subscribe to our website to keep up to date. And why not follow us on facebook, Instagram and YouTube too.
Til then Keep Trekking.
Amy (aka Mumma Bear)
We acknowledge that in some families, these kind of tasks are expected as being apart of the family unit, and we truly appreciate this- this is what we aim to strive for in the near future with the help of our points system, you know- to get the kids started.