This Spring challenged by The Institute of Inertia in partnership with Comparethemarket.com as part of my work with them, to reduce our screen time as a family. I am not going to beat around the bush, during this wet UK winter we have all become too reliant on screens and something needed to be done.
Firstly we had to agree on some ground rules. In this case, house rules that we could all stick too. Screen time and our use of it is something I grapple with constantly and have since my boys were younger. I never left the TV on as background noise. They have always been told that screen time isn’t a right it is a privilege from day one. However, they are growing up in a household where I work online most of the time. MadDad however, doesn’t have a social presence, he doesn’t even have a Facebook account.
Setting smart screen time rules
So we sat down at the dining table and had a heated discussion on what we thought was acceptable. I was determined that our no screens at the dining table and no screens in bedrooms rule were ones that had to stay.
We talked about what was important to us and why. That we wanted quality family time and not for everyone to be sat on devices.
The boys told me that they felt that the no screens after 6pm rule needed to be extended as they were older now, especially over holiday periods.
In the end, we came up with some smart screen time rules that we agreed on and we also discussed that we would be happy to talk about altering things, as nothing is static.
Our Smart screen time rules
- Screentime is NOT private.
- No screens at meal times.
- No screens before homework.
- No screens in bedrooms.
- No screens (other than TV) after 6.30 at night.
- Phones go in the charging basket when we come in the house.
- One hour maximum screen time in one go.
My House, My Rules
These rules do not just apply to me and the kids, but also to their friends too. At the moment, they know that if they are in the house after 6pm that they tech goes into the charging hamper and this is non-negotiable. We have had children choose to leave rather than do that and that is fine by me. My house, my rules.
We have very clear no technology zones in our home. Bathrooms, bedrooms and dining areas,
We make is clear that technology is a choice, so we have other choices too such as reading, play and family time. It is not the default (for them and me) for noisy time or when I need them out of my hair!
Screens and company do not mix – now I know that they do with the boys and I am more than happy to share our wifi code with them if they agree to follow our rules, but if we have family company then the screens are OFF.
Screen time is not private. This has become even more important now that the boys have mobile phones. We have their passwords, talk about and look at the apps they are using and often discuss what is inappropriate and why. We have 100% access at all times and screens have parental controls activated.
Screen time is a privilege and as such must be earned, it is not a right. It can be and will be removed in cases of bad behavior.
So how are we doing:
The first week of the holidays we had intermittent internet due to a line fault and no satellite TV due to our box not working, so we all had no option, but to embrace our Spring resolution and drastically reduced our screen time.
The boys have been great the remaining week of the Easter Holiday. They have really reduced their time on screens. They have made the most of their friends being off and have played football, tennis and cricket for most of the days. Their screen time has massively reduced. Most days they have only taken one mobile out with them as they have been together and only used it to let me know where they were.
The first couple of days back at school have been totally screen free for the boys, which is a revelation!
My screen time has been all over the place during the holiday. I have been trying to look after the boys, the house, work, repairs and everything else. So I have resolved that next week I will turn off the PC in line with the agreement and that is OK with everyone.
I have to say that we are really finding our screen free resolution much easier to keep thanks to it being Spring. so I totally agree with Dr Thomas Webb, social psychologist and Chair of the Institute of Inertia when he said that we should set our resolutions in Spring. The lighter nights and warmer days are great for playing out in and we are more inclined to garden together and walk the dog as a family.
Share your favorite screen free family activities
What are your tips for screen free things to do as a family? I am putting together a month of screen free prompts for kids to do over a month to try and encourage them and you to ditch the screens at least for a short while.
Make sure you join me and the other bloggers taking this challenge (Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family, Donna from What the Redhead Said and Collete from Going on an Adventure) and see the small positive changes we are making that are going to help us achieve our resolutions. You can follow my progress on facebook, twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #springforward.