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Parents Are Giving Kids Money To Stay Off Their Screens — But Does it Work?

Getting kids off screens is an ongoing struggle with parents. And while there are lots of reasons to limit screen time, it might be hard to convince your child of the long-term benefits. So what if you could provide a more compelling motivation — in the form of cold, hard cash?

According to a study by Halifax, one in four parents surveyed admit using an allowance as a way to keep their kids off laptops, phones, and tablets. More children are still getting allowance through traditional means, however, with 60% of parents saying their children have to do chores to receive an allowance. While there isn’t any studies on the effectiveness of no-screen bribery, some financial experts actually recommend steering away from allowances that require tasks to be completed. The thinking is that, if your child truly hates making the bed, they may choose to forgo bed-making (or dishwasher duty, or laundry) in lieu of cash. Think of it as a kid’s version of an unpaid vacation. Similarly, a child could, in theory, decide that Tik Tok or Candy Crush is better than some pocket money and opt to keep playing.

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Clean sink.✅ Make bed.✅ Empty Dishwasher.✅ Now you can have screen time!😳 — Now, don’t get me wrong. I love lists and I think clear expectations are super important. But, as someone who was a parent before portable screens were mainstream, this phenomenon concerns me. I think we’ve tried to find an easy way to manage screen time and it seemed like a win-win to tie chores to much-coveted screen time. — We’ve always expected that our kids have certain jobs and daily tasks done before they use a screen. But, screen time isn’t a daily expectation and we don’t use screen time on a routine or chore chart because I don’t want to create a screen time habit loop. — Wondering what a habit loop is? 🔄 I’ve learned so much from James Clear @james_clear and Charles Duhigg @charlesduhigg about creating good habits and overcoming bad habits. The basic idea is this: Cue➡️Craving➡️Response➡️Reward — I’ve coupled that study with Adam Alter’s research on addiction. Our kids are all different, but for some kids, this reinforcement of being rewarded with screen time could become a real problem. We teach this pattern and then we wonder why kids or teens want to turn to a screen when they feel anxious or bored!😉 — There’s more to this than I can possibly explain in an IG post, ☺️ so check out our article, “Rethinking Screen Time Rewards” to learn more! Link in profile. — How do you allow screen time without creating an expectation or using it as a reward? — #betterscreentime #screenfreetime #mindfulparenting #irresistibleadamalter #thepowerofhabit #atomichabits

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However, it might not be as simple as all that: another study from Airtasker actually found that kids who do chores in return for allowance are more financially literate as adults. The study’s conclusion is that it’s because children benefit from tying money closely to labor. It may be harder to see a direct correlation between shutting down a laptop and getting $5, however. Of course, there’s knowing that in your head — and there’s really, truly just wanting a break from endless episodes of Paw Patrol. Perhaps if the result is a book being read that might not have been otherwise, the extra few bucks won’t feel like a big deal.

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