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I have never been a fan of screen time. Up until our oldest hit 1st grade it was EASY to set up screen time boundaries in our home:
- Only dvds in the car when on long road trips
- No using our phones or tablets at all (except to watch Potty videos during potty training)
- Movie time at home a couple times a week (limited to only DVDs, you can see our views about WHY our kids only watch DVDS here!)
Simple. Easy. No issues at ALL!
Then our son when to public school in 1st grade. Where they have computers and tablets and are asked to practice skills at home using these resources. Not only are they learning with technology, but they are playing ALL kinds of games on it too (which super annoys me, by the way.). So they come home wanting to play those same games at home. Wanting more screen time, newer experiences, more more more.
I have had LOTS of people over the years tell me that I shouldn’t be withholding screen time from our children when they are young because they “need” to know how to use technology for when they enter school age. I will put everyone’s minds at ease on this: our son had ZERO issues catching up to his peers with technology. In fact he won the award at the end of the school year for his skills with technology in the classroom! Don’t hesitate to limit screen time. It won’t harm your children to stay away, in fact it’ll only benefit them.
Now that the school is asking us to use technology in our home with our child, we have had to re-define our screen time limits. This is something we continue to re-evaluate. Every child is different and our oldest is the type that would be obsessed with technology if we didn’t put those limits on it. He’s be glued to the iPad all day. He’s be one of those career video gamers if he let him! (This is something I actually noticed when he was younger and had a moment where “reparenting” was needed, you can read about that lesson here)
He and I went on a trip together and the resort we stayed at had an arcade. It was then that I saw his natural pull to technology and knew it would be something we’d have to closely monitor. He became very obsessive about a video game they had at the arcade. Very competitive about it. Very “glued to the screen” and very upset when it was time to go. He asked for a video game similar to that one from Santa for Christmas. Thankfully Santa gave him a simple plug-in-the-tv type video console with that one game on it but it’s yet another thing we have to monitor and limit.
Here is how we currently manage screen time for our almost 8 year old (our 5 and 2 year old still stick with our easy, simple set up and will continue to do so as long as we possibly can keep it that way!):
- He is allowed to play his math app for school practice (that syncs with his teacher’s computer so she can see results) once a day.
- Once he plays that he may set a little egg timer for 15 minutes and may either: another app from the school recommendation list, a coding app his gifted class recommended, type on his blog (yes, he has a private blog he likes to work on), or he may play a Lego game once a week on the main Lego website.
- This gives him a total of close to 30 min a day with screen time (at home, who knows how much he’s getting at school). He doesn’t watch any tv or movies after school nor is he allowed to play any video games.
- On the weekends he and his daddy like to play video games together as bonding time (Mario Kart, Tiger Woods Golf, or Wii Sports). They can do this for 45 min per weekend.
- He is also allowed to play his video game from Santa for 30 minutes one time a week.
- He very rarely watches any movies (if we do have movie time during the day it’s while he’s at school) and if he does it’s only in the car on trips, during family movie nights, or Veggie Tales for 30 min on Sunday mornings.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed about technology for our son is that he can never get enough. MORE is the word to best describe his feelings on all things screens. I think this is a common trend in our culture (look at us and our social media and phones…more more more!) and it’s something I want to fight against as a parent. I want him to be bored. I want him to continue to explore that creative side of himself. I want him to play with his sisters. To be interacting with the family. I never, ever want that child who spends all his time in his room glued to his tv/tablet/phone.
The battle against screen time is something that I will continue to fight and will continue to stand firm on with enforcing limitations in our home. I LOVE that my husband isn’t glue to his phone all the time. I want our children to model that same behavior. I want them to be plugged in to their spouses and children…rather than plugged in to screens.
How do you manage screen time with older children? I know I’m new to this world and would love insight from fellow mamas!
Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day and we’re ALL talking about screen time. I’m super eager to read everyone else’s post on this topic as they’ve all had some great ideas floating around: