Limit Setting in Tech Overuse

Limit Setting in Tech Overuse

In a recent Podcast Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban discussed mechanisms for setting up limits on his children’s tech use habits.  There is no doubt about it- structure is good.  Particularly with younger children, parents need to set limits on tech use.  At Summerland Camps we recommend limits on time spent playing online games in addition to limits on types of websites or games young children can play.

Photo this author took in a hotel room while attending a conference. Being told to “not push this button” only made me want to push it! After a conversation with the front desk, a better sign would have been, “Push this button only if you want to A/C to stop.”  This is the difference between limit setting and “intrinsic motivation.”

Cuban discusses how his children earn their Netflix hours.  For every hour his kids spend reading books, they got two hours of Netflix.  The problem with a limit setting only strategy is that people naturally test boundaries, and Cuban’s kids are no exception to this rule.  Cuban stated, “And that worked out really well until one of her friends gave her the password.”

At Summerland Camps we believe a limit setting only strategy is a recipe for disaster. It creates a situation where a child is then dependent on their parents to set limits.  What then will happen when this child goes off to college and there are no limits?

While limit setting only may be effective for very young children, once a child is able to develop insight and take responsibility for their behaviors, a different approach warranted.

Intrinsic Motivation is Key

The answer is to develop intrinsic motivation.  That is, to develop the internal desire to change or live within certain parameters to achieve a higher goal.  We can then reinforce structure in different ways other than setting time limits or other controls on electronics.

For example, a student might have a desire to go to school and become a nurse.  To do this, they need to pass certain classes, take an exam, and achieve certain milestones.

Visual reminders can be put up to remind the student of their commitment.  Electronic reminders, such as an alarm on your phone or computer can be set to define study times.  We can also have the student place their own limits on their computer to enforce attainment of pre-determined goals.

At Summerland Camps we believe change is best if it bubbles up from within, not when hammered down from above.  While setting up time limits on electronic devices is part of the solution, only setting up limits can actually make the problem worse if intrinsic motivation to change is not simultaneously addressed.