How To Limit Screen-Time, While Being The Good Parent
Let's Be Realistic About Screens
There's no sugar-coating it. Screens will be a part of most of our children's lives.
Tablets, smartphones and TV screens and their endless forms of entertainment offer too enticing of a distraction to ever hope to cancel them. Heck, my child will choose to tap on the refrigerator's screen when we separate her from her Amazon Fire after an episode of Elmo.
The reality of screen-time not only a bad thing!
- Our electronic 'babysitters' have been a lifesaver when things get busy at home and we can use a happy distraction.
- When our toddler decides to be inconsolable, this pocket-sized machine is almost undefeated when faced against her crankiness.
- There's educational content that children can be guided toward. May new words in our child's vocabulary we're entered by something she watched.
Also, who are we to judge?
As if us adults are angels of productivity and only use the iPhone to make calls and send important messages. Ya, right! When I accidentally glance at my screen-time figures (I would never look on purpose) my game time is alarming!
At least, now that we started this little shop, I can claim that all my Instagram and TikTok scrolling is 'research.'
So, any and all serious ideas on this topic must be based on this acknowledgement: The majority of toddlers and kids and teens and adults will be tempted by and entertained with our battery-operated friends.
Drawing The Line Of Screen-Time
There's no hard and fast rule on how much screen-time is too much. This will be determined by the clear-eyed assessment of the adults in the room.
Does one episode make sense? Two games? Thirty minutes? Or does the arbitrary number not work for your household? Does the rainy day after school ended but before camp started deserve a different standard than the stunning fall day that the family only has two hours to bond after school? Perhaps, consider places that will be no-screen-zones, like the dinner table. All of this and much much more should be considered.
But whatever your thoughts are, some limit should be made. It's not easy being the Debbie-Downer on all the endorphins and instant gratification on the internet, but once you decide that you want to want to put an end to it, the foundation is already laid.
Be sure to communicate that limit to your kids in order to diminish (as much as possible) the resulting grumblings or tantrums. But, the level of difficulty of the screen-limitation will largely be determined by the success of the next step.
Ideas For Making Wholesome Stuff More Compelling
1. Do it together!
No one like a hypocrite but especially when the limit-maker is still on their phone after confiscating the young person's tablet.
2. Go outside!
The great outdoors offers a bunch of surprising forms of entertainment and pleasant beauty.
3. Give options!
Prepare a substantive list of ideas for quality activities. Extra points if you'll join in.
4. Keep things fresh!
This is especially true for toddlers and babies. Don't just dump all the toys in front of the littles. Form some sort of rotation, so that when you hand a toy to them, it seems new and interesting.
5. Allow for adventure!
You can't say no screens and then immediately say no to your kiddo's every attempt at finding new forms of fun. Be open to their creative ideas for adventure.
This struggle is a real and, likely, an everlasting one. However, remember that each moment of quality time created by you, is one more for the side of wholesomeness and warmth. Each one should not be underestimated.