Screen time and the boys is something I battle with. It isn’t such an issue in the summer and good weather when their first choice would be to be outside playing with their friends. But as the nights draw in, then they do reach for the screen more often than not. They are not TV fanatics and we do not have it on in the background, but they do love their Ipods and Xbox. It is all about finding a balance that suits us as a family.
At the moment, we have strict limits on screen time at home which are no screens at all (except for TV as a family) after 6pm, no screens at the dinner table and one hour limit a day otherwise agreed. We also have a #signoffsaturday or a #saignoffsunday where we have a day at the weekend which is technology free.
Why I chose to limit screen time
Research has proven that the blueish light emitted from tablets and phones suppresses our natural melatonin levels and effects sleep especially in children and teens. This is why we have a no screens in bedrooms rule, which even us adults abide by. This is the reason why we have no screens after 6pm in the hope that we can encourage the boys to have quality sleep and also why we do not have TV’s in their rooms.
I want my boys to participate in family life, to help prepare dinner, to do their chores and to play. I want to teach them not to choose to reach for a screen when they are unsure of what to do. I do not want them addicted to screens.
Limiting screen time make me parent
I am going to be straight with you and I do believe that there is a place in our family for screens. I have no issue with my boys using them in the car or even in moderation, but moderation is the key word and there are times when it is convenient to let them play for longer that I would prefer in order that I can get some job or another done, but that is me being a lazy parent.
So I have to invest more time in being present as a parent and I find that if the boys know that there is no chance of screen time that they play more creatively.
How to limit screen time
I am not saying that it is easy to limit screen time and the transition can be hard, but I am flexible and believe that I am doing the right thing for my family.
1) Set a good example
We are big believers in do as I do rather than do as I say here in The Mad House and we do this by setting a good example. We do not have our phones at the table, we do not take them in to our bedrooms either. We leave our phones by the door when we come in from work and have a charging station for all technology.
2) Encourage other activities
I make it easy for the boys not to reach for their screens we have a seasonal bored jar and I also try to make sure that I have resources accessible for them such as board games and a well stocked craft cupboard.
3) Give your kids time
Kids want you to be present in their lives. I make sure that I give them some attention and get involved and play with them. We regularly have family games night and family movie night. The days are long, but the years are short and they will be given up before I know it. I observe, listen, ask and parent. We have family screen free activities.
4) Be the parent
It is my job to do what I feel best for my children and if that means I am unpopular for a little while then so be it. I have hard decisions to make and I stand by them. I explain my decision to the boys and stand by it. Screen time is not a right it is a reward.
Interestingly it seems that Steve Jobs was a low tech parent.
There is no right or wrong in this and as the first generation of parents really dealing with this, we are all just doing what we feel best for our families. My dear friend Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family has a different take on this, so why not pop over and see how she handles screen time with her two children. It just goes to show you that there isnt a one size fits all solution.