These things have been problematic. I love Kindle's, don't get me wrong, I just don't like that the boys spend their time screwing around on the Internet, not reading books.
Honestly, I've never been a fan of video games for the kids anyway and until they got these Kindle Fires it wasn't an issue at all. I much prefer their time to be spent interacting, reading, playing, or physically pursuing an interest, not glued to a screen. Especially not in the middle of a beautiful summer with a whole world out there to explore. And especially not when one boys lack of solid reading skills is becoming very, very apparent ... he needs to spend his time reading books, not playing games.
I recognize that most people have no problem with this kind of stuff and I respect that. I do also realize that these hand held electronic devices aren't going anywhere. I also respect that while I don't like the Kindle Fires they were a gift from the boys father and I prefer not to forever banish them from the house.
For what it's worth, Minecraft was banned from this house ages ago. Too much of a brain and time suck. I get that there's value to it but I didn't like the isolation, which they solved by playing together somehow, but that just led to fighting non-stop. Buh bye Minecraft.
I decided that for every age appropriate book they read they'd get five hours of time on the Kindle.
One boy said, "ok, I'll go get a book" and did, the other responded, "that's not fair" and went off to play guitar. Guess which one is my very, very reluctant reader.
To gauge their reading, so I know they'd read the book without reading it myself, they must choose books from their age-appropriate section at Book Adventures and pass the quiz at the end with an 80% or higher (some books vary due to translation, like Swiss Family Robinson, so they might get an answer wrong simply from having a slightly different version ... with the 80% rule they aren't penalized for these kinds of things).
Once they pass the quiz they come tell me and receive 5 "One Hour Kindle Time" tickets. When they want an hour on the electronics they turn in a ticket. I write the current time on the ticket and it expires one hour later. I write the time for two reasons ... most importantly, because I'd never remember when they started, and also to mark the ticket as "used".
It didn't take long for both boys to find a book to read, even Mr. Reluctant Reader. Perfectly, they picked a series, Artemis Fowl. They both got hooked on the first book and are now working their way through the entire collection.
We're over a month into this little experiment. Both boys currently have 24 hours of Kindle time saved up. Turns out, five hours is overkill and I should have given them 3 hours per book ... but a deals a deal, so they just keep racking up the time. The boys are reading ALL THE TIME. I can't get either one of them to stop. Seriously, the books are taking over around here. And it's WONDERFUL.
The reluctant reader has discovered that books are awesome. He loves reading. He just needed that little push and a good series to get him started. One of his creative writing papers last week mentioned that he wished he'd started reading earlier, another stated that he'd make his kids read a lot because reading is great.
The non-reluctant reader is in heaven. He's got someone to talk to about books and, between the two of them, they can check out eight books each time we go the library so he's got more to read.
Both boys have shown immediate improvement in their own writing. Bigger sentences, proper sentences, better paragraphs, improved spelling, all sorts of good stuff.
Another bonus: The time they are spending on the Kindle is much more valuable to them now. They're making different, more thought out, choices of what they want to do with that time. It's neat to see their brains working and thinking about this, maximizing their time and minimizing wasted time.
So far, I have to call this system a roaring success. I'm happier with it than I imagined I ever would be. I knew the Kindle time would be cut down, but I had no idea how much both boys would fall in love with reading.
How do you tame the electronics at your house?