As long as your children are living at home, it’s not too late to become more active in guiding them in healthy directions. Screen time usage becomes a question of not whether how much is too much, but more important, what is being missed when our faces are in a screen?
Here are some strategies :
- Create viewing guidelines-
- What factual data is my child learning from this program
- What kind of character traits is it seeking to build
- How does this program treat family members
- Is it consistent with our family values
- Growing up in a hyper connected world kids admit they would rather text than talk. Encourage them to open up by saying “tell me more”. They will want to put down their screens if you allow them to have a point of view.
Include the kids in creating a family plan around screen time. Set rules around use, incorporate contracts, or try NO TECH Tuesdays.
Free play should be NON SCREEN . Give kids space to use their imagination. They are so use to instant gratification and access to cures from their “boredom”. The art of patience is lost when efforts are immediately rewarded.
Play Unplugged games that stimulate the brain and help kids predict another’s view like card or board games. Role playing and dress up helps them step into another’s shoes .
Look for and take opportunities for teachable moments . This cannot happen when everyone’s face is in a screen - unless you are doing it together - ie reading and discussing a recent news article or looking at facebook photos with each other
The most cherished times your children will remember are the times they spent with you, not their phone. They might not admit to it though so you have to make it happen.
Bonding is learned thru direct interaction with humans. You/ your kids should definitely be spending more time on strengthening personal relationships than growing your virtual friend list.
Do not use your phone or ipad as an electronic babysitter!
Use screen time as a reward or consequence. Technology is not totally to blame but the impact on the growing mind and heart of a child is undeniable.Grateful kids realize the world does not evolve around their wants and needs. Cultivating a thankful heart in your child has become a lost art.
Look out for mood changes. When children spend too much time playing video games , especially if they are playing violent games, they will often become grumpy, easily angered, impatient and argumentative. Try taking away their devices and see what happens. Notice other social behaviors maybe not outward anger but withdrawn, no desire to do anything, secluded, or low communication.
REST AND RECHARGE should not come from a screen. Downtime should and must be spent away from our devices.
Family Table Talk Discussions - Find it impossible to have dinner together? Schedule family meeting times or discuss in the car, at bath time or bedtime. Use these times to teach your kids social skills.