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Dad Shares The Checklist Of Tasks That His Kids Must Complete Before They're Allowed Any Screen Time

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High Angle View Of Boy Using Digital Tablet For Playing Game

The topic of children and screen time has continued to cause debates and healthy conversations ranging from how to limit screens to the fallout of how damaging excessive screen time can be for a child's development. However, Doctor Richard Wadsworth has seemingly cracked the code on allowing his children to enjoy screen time while also not turning into complete zombies who aren't productive outside of it.

Dr. Wadsworth shared the checklist of tasks his kids must complete before they're allowed any screen time.

In a TikTok video, Wadsworth, a psychiatrist and author who is the father of seven children, had gone into his son's room at 6:30 a.m. and noticed that the young boy was doing deltoid exercises with dumbbells. Apparently, Wadsworth's son got up early to work out, but why? 

He explained that the reason why his son had gotten up early to exercise before school started was because of a list that he'd created for him and all of his other siblings. "Can I get on screens? Did you..." the checklist questioned, which was taped right on the fridge for all of his kids to see. To be granted screen time, Wadsworth made sure that his kids knew they had to complete certain tasks to be granted that luxury.

"There's a list of things that they need to do, and right here is, did you exercise? My son's chosen to do his 20 minutes of lifting weights. I'm not forcing my son to exercise every day but I am setting rules and boundaries around his screen time," Wadsworth said. 

   

   

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His son had wanted to spend more time after school playing with his friend and decided to get up and exercise early in the morning so that he'd have guaranteed screen time once he got home later in the day. On top of exercising, the list stated that Wadsworth's kids must also do household chores, like cleaning their rooms.

"We have all of their screens locked away and if they want access to any of them, they need to come and ask us and we'll go through the list together," Wadsworth continued. "And they're not getting screens until the list is done."

Dad Shares The Checklist Of Tasks His Kids Must Complete Before Screen TimePhoto: FatCamera / Canva Pro

His children are also responsible for doing their laundry, getting all of their homework done, making sure their lunch is made for the next day, and all of their clothes and shoes are put out as well. He even made sure that the list was specific for certain tasks too, including checking to see that all the toilets in the house were flushed.

Wadsworth likened allowing his children screen time to how often they should be allowed to eat sweets.

He pointed out that screen time is often linked to depression and anxiety in teenagers, which is more than true.

According to a 2018 study on screen time, along with higher rates of depression and anxiety, the study found that young people who spent seven hours or more a day on screens (not including schoolwork) were more easily distracted, less emotionally stable, and had more problems finishing tasks and making friends compared to those who spent just an hour a day on screens.

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A child developmental researcher named Liv explained in a TikTok video of her own that through her labwork with infants and toddlers, she's noticed a difference in the behavior of those who are addicted to screens versus those who are not exposed to any at all. Liv observed that the children who have access to tablets often throw fits once the devices are removed from their possession.

   

   

"It's really concerning," she said. "Personally, I think your method of parenting is flawed if there's a lot of research showing that it is flawed and people can tell [instantly] that your child has screen time or not."

Because of all of the extensive research, data, and studies that have come out about children and screen times, Wadsworth refuses to fail his children by allowing them to become addicted to their tablets and phones, at least without not being productive on their own first. He compared screen time to parents allowing their children dessert, and how many want their children to eat a full meal before indulging in any sweet treats.

It's a reward, not something they should be entitled to have. He's even noticed a huge improvement in his children's behaviors since creating the checklist in the first place as well.

"My son woke up early yesterday and exercised and he said, 'I had so much energy at school. I felt so much better this morning.' He had a big smile on his face. He felt better about himself," Wadsworth recalled. And it's true, children of all ages, whether they're toddlers, preteens, or teenagers, need a routine and guidance so that they don't get sucked into their screens and lose track of time.

Wadsworth's kids are choosing to make good decisions regarding their well-being, and they are learning the importance of discipline and putting themselves first, which will go a long way into their adulthood. 

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.