Taming the Media Monster

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Are you ready for Christmas yet?  Yeah, me either.  That’s kind of a bummer, so let’s talk about something else, shall we?

How about that Media Monster?  Not a great second choice for topics, is it?  Before we fish around for a third lousy topic for discussion, let’s take a minute with this one.  I can’t do your Christmas shopping for you, but I might have an idea that will tame your family media monster into a cute little baby dinosaur.  (Sorry, I’m all out of my Invisibility Potion, so I can’t make it completely disappear.)

I have four kids.  One of my batch is a dye-hard gamer.  This particular child tends to spin in circles when I pull the media plug – which is funny, because I have always had strict rules about what was appropriate and how much time was allowed for gaming.  Even so, he often doesn’t know how to occupy himself when I won’t let him use the computer.  He has lots of other activities available to him, but none of those activities have the appeal of the almighty media.  And he is teaching my youngest child the “great value of media”.  Bleh.  I know some folks deal with these kinds of problems by completely cutting off all media.  That has it’s merits, for sure.  But I could see that this child would simply bide his time and fall headlong into media insanity as soon as he left home.  I need to teach him moderation and self-control.  That way, he will learn to be moderate and self-controlled, whether I am watching over him or not.  The way to do that isn’t to cut media off completely, but to train his flesh to use it properly.  I need to teach him how to pull away when he still wants to play.  That means moderate exposure, not complete annihilation.

I needed a way to train him that he (and his side-kick, my youngest child,) could easily see, remember and follow.  I also had certain things I wanted him to make a part of every day.

The Bible says that if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat.  I say that if you don’t work, you shouldn’t play — media, that is.  Obviously, I wanted him to do his chores before media.  And his schoolwork.  Those things constitute the “work” part of his day.

I also firmly believe that children should read — A LOT.  That means reading needs to be a part of every day.  And children need to be outside every. single. day.  I also don’t like them having access to media every day (except for school work).  I wanted a system that would remind my younger kids of the four major things I wanted to be a part of each day AND would limit when and how much media time they had.  That’s when I came up with The Media Token Plan.

The Media Token Plan allows my kids to earn media time each day by doing the things they should be doing anyway.  It allows them to redeem those tokens at only certain times of the week.  This may seem too lenient to some of you, and overly strict to others of you.  You would need to tweak this idea to make it fit in your own home.  (Some of my kids are practically adults, and self-disciplined.  Obviously they are not part of this.  That would be degrading, wouldn’t it?)

Some other notes:
*Our Sundays are CRAZY, being in the ministry and all.   I don’t know how my kids could consistently do the requirements.  Besides, I don’t make them do chores or school on Sunday, because it’s SUNDAY.  Let them rest.  So I don’t give tokens on Sundays.
*We just use marbles for the tokens.  It was what we had. You could use anything you like.
*We don’t allow saving of tokens from week to week.  There is a reason for that.  I know my kids.  They will save the tokens, or part of them, for later.  Eventually they will start begging to use them at all the wrong times.  Instead of a clear cut redemption plan, they will descend into begging and rule-bending.  I know your kids would never start looking for loopholes, but mine will, so I headed them off at the pass.  I’m smart like that.  Huzzah.
*I put the tokens in a larger jar, and gave the kids each a smaller jar with their name on it.  When they earn a token, it goes in their jar.  When they redeem a token, it goes in my jar.  Easy peasy.
*I printed up the following Media Token Plan information so they (and I) can refer to it as needed.

How it works:


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The Media Token Plan

The Rules:
Tokens may be earned Monday through Saturday.
Tokens will not be given out on Sundays.
Each Token is worth 5 minutes of media time.
It is possible to earn 2 hours total media time per week.
Media tokens must be used in the week they are earned.
Media tokens do not carry over to another week and cannot be saved.
Media Tokens are redeemable on Saturdays and/or on days when Mama is away.
 
How to earn Media Tokens:
You may earn media tokens in 4 ways:
  1. Schoolwork — You earn 1 media token for each day of schoolwork completed well and on time. (If you have done your schoolwork well and on time for the entire week, you earn an extra token.)  It is possible to earn 6 tokens each week (5 minutes each = 30 minutes of media time).
  2. Chores — You earn 1 media token for each day of chores and daily chores completed well and on time.  It is possible to earn 6 tokens each week  (5 minutes each = 30 minutes of media time).
  3. Reading time — You earn 1 media token for each day in which you spend at least 1 hour of independent reading time.  It is possible to earn 6 tokens each week  (5 minutes each = 30 minutes of media time).
  4. Outside time — You earn 1 media token for each day in which you spend at least 1 hour of active time outdoors.  You may not combine this with reading time by reading outdoors.  If the weather is absolutely nasty (as in, there is a blizzard and a wind chill of -80 F,) you may substitute a productive indoor project (including clean-up) for the outside time.  It is possible to earn 6 tokens each week  (5 minutes each = 30 minutes of media time).
If you work hard, it is possible to earn a full 2 hours worth of media tokens to be redeemed at the appropriate times.
 
 
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That’s it.  The hard part is enforcement.   My kids are doing well with it, though, and it is easier for me to make sure they aren’t sliding or wasting time.  They like that they can see an instant reward for a job well done.  I still have to do far more “reminding” than I would like, but things are improving.  It’s called child training, not magic, right?
 
Have a great day!
 
Angela
 
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