I’m jumping on a hot topic this morning: Screen time for kids. If I’m honest I’ve always felt a bit too sloppy on this one, but maybe I was too hard on myself….
I read a Psychology article recently saying that too strict policing of it (by parents) can be harmful to the child! It suggests the child builds resentment and is more likely to rebel or watch inappropriate things in order to regain control of their screen time.
I’m not usually into scare-monger articles and take them with a pinch of salt (otherwise we’d end up scared to do anything) and I certainly don’t think being strict is a bad thing, but there are ways to handle things that would cause less tension:
Anyone (even if you don’t have kids or are still one yourself) can see that the strict ‘2 hours and the plug goes off’ could cause some tension….what if the programming is running late? Or they paused it in the middle to use the loo? There are several reasons it may run over a few minutes and it would make anyone of any age a bit grumpy if someone switched off a programme or film at the climax!
We don’t have all the answers, but here are a few guidelines we try to live by:
- Every day is different: Some days won’t involve TV and computers at all but others will involve illness or sleepovers/movie nights…some days just have to be more relaxed. If we’ve had a rainy stay-at-home day and she’s had a lot of screen time, we plan alternatives for the next day, talking to them about plans really helps too as they know what’s coming up that might change their screen time.
- Lead by example: It would be unfair of me to tell my daughter to turn TV off and tidy her room if I’m on the computer, so I try to do online stuff early or when she’s watching TV anyway. If there’s been an indoor day we plan some outdoor things or at least get away from screens with books and games.
- Clear guidelines: Rather than just turning off the TV and getting attitude, we give warnings about how long it is until tea, or that after this YouTube video she has chores to do. This means she is choosing to be calm, trustworthy and responsible by turning the TV off herself and going to do what she’s been asked…..You may think this is easier because she’s older, but we were doing this when she was 3. In fact, it’s better for little ones if you say ‘after this show’ or ‘when the big hand gets to 12’ because they have very little concept of what an hour is!
- Routine helps: We are not slaves to routine, but the concept of ‘have a rest and a snack, then chores’ works well after school. Madam doesn’t come home to me nagging about homework, she comes in, has a snack and a drink and turns on TV or Kindle for a bit. Then I’ll ask her if she has anything to do and if she has no work set and we have no chores she can have a bit longer. If she has work to do, she can sit in kitchen and do it while I’m making dinner in case she needs help (which is happening less and less now!)… or she can have her music on for some work; depends what it is and how she’s concentrating: Sometimes it helps her, sometimes it helps her avoid things she doesn’t want to do.
Learning how to manage all this is part of growing up, sometimes our teenager needs a reminder and most times she just needs a time-check.
What works for you in your house?
Have a great Sunday!