To me, that depends. In Parenting with Love and Logic, we want to see our kids making AFFORDABLE mistakes. Making poor use of time might be an affordable mistake for some kids, depending on age, grades etc.
The best and easiest) time to set the limit is UP FRONT. When we first provide the device or gaming system, we can set the conditions.
If it’s too late for that, I might experiment with going back to zero. Hard in the short-run, but worth it in the long-run for the kid to come home and the device is just gone. Get a friend to keep it hidden in their house for you to help you stay strong. Now you can say “We’ll bring ____ back into our home when ________.” I like “…when it is not causing problems.”
Parents who have taken this significant action often endure an initial blow-up. But, since they have taken action and set a REAL LIMIT, they tend to have fewer fights when the device returns.
We actually hope every kid gets a cell phone taken away at least once so that the kid will believe adults will follow through and actually do something.
As far as managing time when the device is available, I like going back to that phrase “You are welcome to play as soon as chores and homework are completed.” I know a dad who kept the controllers and his kids had to ‘check them out’ from him after he saw that their work was done.
But as kids get older, we don’t want to be managing their time for them as much. We are more likely to step in when their behavior causes a problem for somebody else. If they are mostly making problems for themselves and not others, we might hang back a bit and let empathy + the consequences (being tired, having to scramble to get things done) do the teaching.
We always want parents to be able to use some flexibility and common sense.
Next Post: Should school nights be a no gaming zone?