For Christmas, we got our two boys (9 and 10 at the time), iPad Mini's. Because we homeschool, we use the iPads for lots of their educational needs. They use Microsoft Word to write reports. They use Excel to track their savings. We get lots of high quality usage out of them.
Of course, they also get to use them for games and texting with their friends. However, we have rules that limit their usage. They can only use the devices for fun after they've "earned" for the day. This usually consists of 45 minutes of reading. Then, they get 45 minutes of play time. We also have a very strict rule of no usage after 8:30. See Protect Your Child with a Mobile Device Contract.
Being a responsible parent, I also setup NetSanity on each device. NetSanity helps to prevent children from using inappropriate apps. It also has a great feature of disabling the devices internet access at specific times of the day. Now, I needn't worry about them seeing inappropriate content or using the internet at night.
Or so I thought. Back in February, I needed to do some updates on their devices. I looked around the house and couldn't find them. I entered the boys room to discover them playing games in bed. Needless to say, they lost their iPads for 2 weeks. Lesson learned.
Or so I thought. Last week, my oldest son went off to bed with his iPad. I discovered it missing and asked him about it. At first, he lied then immediately said he did have it. The next day, we discussed his consequence in a very Love and Logic way. Before I even told him how I planned on solving this, he asked me, "Can you take it away at night? It's just too tempting."
Wow! I had planned on doing just that. I was astounded that my son was aware of how he was losing control of his own desires and needed help managing them. So, I remembered some article I had read about "tucking in and taking away". The article talked about sleep deprived kids spending the whole night texting and using Facebook and other very unsafe apps to talk to friends and strangers on other free messaging apps for kids.
We've solved this problem by requiring the iPads to be placed on our bedroom nightstand by 8:30 pm every night. If they are not there by that time, the boys lose them for 3 days. If they are caught using them after 8:30, then they lose the iPad for 3 weeks. It doesn't matter why they failed to do it. Plain and simple. Now, we've removed the temptation from them and have hopefully instilled a sense of responsibility and self-control.
Do your kids a favor. Tuck them in at night and take away their devices. Don't let temptation lead them to secretly using their devices. If this secret starts, can you imagine the other secrets they'll start to keep from you?