For the summer we have set in place certain "safeguards" to make sure our boys don't overdose on Wii/computer time. I give each of the kids seven clothes pins at the beginning of the week. Each pin is worth half an hour of screen time. This is the equivalent of half an hour a day. It includes Nintendo DS, TV, movies, computer, and Wii. The kids have to budget their screen time if they want to have some left on Saturday. The clips are refilled on Sunday.
To even be allowed to use a clip, the kids have to do their half hour of piano practice and read at least half an hour. They are then allowed to use their clips.
When we first started this system, I noticed one boy watching the other boy as he played. I quickly put an end to this by letting the boys know that it's still screen time if they're watching. As I type, the youngest is using one of his clips to watch the oldest play a computer game.
(I've also given the kids an incentive to get piano practice done in the mornings... The first to practice only has to do five minutes of scales. The second does six and the third does seven. Anyone practicing after lunch does the full ten minutes of scales. My three kids were all done piano practice by 10:30 this morning.)
The result of all this? My oldest is reading a lot more. The younger two are having a blast making up stories and everyone is spending more time outside. The kids are riding their bikes more, playing board games more, and coming up with some very fun Lego and K'Nex creations.
We don't seem to stick to routines around here for longer than a few months. Our household seems to work best when we mix it up. So I don't know how long this will last, but it's working really well for the summer.
The best part? My kids choose the Wii or computer over the TV so they have no idea what the TV is telling them that they should want! They are so much more satisfied with what they have this way.