How to manage screen time with your kids - Evolved Mommy
- On January 7, 2013
Or… how to teach your boys to paint toenails.
Guest post by Amy Robinson.
When our daughter was 12, she got her first mobile phone and promptly asked, “Daddy, when did you get your first mobile phone?” He answered that he was 28 and that it was the size of a brick. She gazed at him in wonder. Or maybe she was looking at him like he was an alien (it’s hard to tell with pre-teens).
She didn’t know there was life before technology. She learned to use the mouse on a computer when she was 3 years old and had access to a laptop by the time she was 8. And now, here we are with three kids and more gadget, gizmos and screens to manage than we ever thought possible.
We grew up in the days of rotary phones and three TV channels (please, don’t do the math). Then came VHS and, eventually, cable television. Even with television as an option, when we were squirmy our parents said, “Go outside!” When we uttered the word “bored” they told us to read a book. Now, between TV’s, phones, laptops, tablets and gaming systems, it is possible for my family to never have to compromise or interact, much less go outside or read a book.
Several years ago we made the decision to have no cable and only internet. Netflix existed, Hulu was emerging and we realized that when our children had to make a choice about what they watched, it sometimes slowed them down long enough to find something else to do.
Now that they’ve grow accustom to making those choices and, with more screen options available, we’ve had to adapt yet again.
We’ve experimented and some things have worked. Most haven’t. It’s not an exact science and often our experiments have fallen flat because they take constant policing by busy parents who don’t always remember the rules themselves or keep track of who-has-what-time-left or why it was taken away in the first place. So, we try to keep it simple.
Amy’s Simple Screen Time Rules
- Define “screen time” as, well, anything with a screen (TV, phone, laptop, gaming systems large & small).
- Give a screen time allowance (1 hour on weeknights, 2-3 hours a day on weekends and vacations) except for family game or TV watching (encouraging compromise).
- Give extra screen time as an earned reward (this gives us options, too).
- Make a list of optional activities. Ours is printed and on the refrigerator (mostly because we need a reminder as well).
- Stick to it. Saying “5 more minutes” and being willing to click the off button in 5 minutes, no matter the tears that may fall.
- Lead by example and being willing to put down our own screens and play with them.
There are as many gray areas as there are screen options, of course, but this has been a good place for us to start. What we’re finding is that, with practice and patience (sometimes them being patient with us), our kids have come to appreciate their screen-less time. They complain less, enjoy their down time more, and come up with (ahem) interesting ways to entertain themselves…
Screenless Shenanigans from the Robinson Family
This post is written by my amazing friend Amy Robinson. Amy is the mother of three, a facilitator and business coach by day and blogger by night. She believes in tribes of women and is living that belief by bringing her voice to you through http://tribeofwomen.com/.
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