The stats are in and World Health experts are recommending we seriously limit what access our children have to screen time. For children under 2 it’s recommended zero screen time – you heard me! Nada, zilch, not a dicky! For all kids under 5 they recommend a maximum of 1 hour each day. You can read more about that here. Well it’s easier said than done right? I mean phones/tablets/TV are the best babysitters and allow tired parents some much needed respite. Sorry Keepers but I have to say, it’s not about us. It’s about protecting the innocence of youth and I mean that in more than one way.
Obviously we all try to protect our kids from accidently seeing something they shouldn’t online or protecting them from online predators but what I’m talking about is protecting our kids from too much screen time. It just doesn’t benefit kids when they are given uncontrolled access to screens and in fact eventually leads to difficulties and addictions for the child.
So how do we help our kids and us!? Firstly it’s a nice time to remind ourselves that as the parent/guardian it is not our job to be friends with our kids (until they are capable adults themselves). This means that No must mean No – at all costs. If you decide to start laying down some technology boundaries you must stick to your guns, especially if you haven’t in the past, you can expect a LOT of push back. The older your child the more you can reason and explain your decision but the older they are the more of a fight you will get back. No matter the age and no matter how ‘late’ in the game you are I urge you to put restrictions on NOW. By choosing to be more intentional in your parenting you will start to notice a difference. Less aggression, more creativity and more time together.
Now my children are not yet old enough to have their own phones and they currently don’t have access to a computer or tablets without adult supervision. I realise as they get older this will be more difficult to navigate, especially as all their friends have phones/tablets but as their parents we need to set boundaries before the begging starts. It’s a good idea to know ahead of time what you will allow and what you wont – and then for goodness sake stick to it. Don’t justify in your mind why it’s ok they’ve had more screen time this month or cave in to the constant nagging before and after school. In our home the only times they are allowed extra screen time is for sickness, school requirement or a major event. The rest of the time the kids have to go outside and make their own fun – just like we all had to in the 80’s. Boredom is helpful and inspires creative minds, if they complain then give them a job to do. Get them involved in some of the activities I’ve listed below and give them alternative options. It’s one thing to take something out of their life but you need to fill that void.
If your child is truly struggling and in need of a digital detox you are going to have to make it a seriously high priority in your life. Put other things aside and get to know your child, take an interest and suggest things you can do together.
I’ve written a list of great alternatives for you to do with them here: Take a short course in martial arts, learn woodworking, hiking, camping, fishing, dancing, craft, photography, adventures outside and then scrapbooking your day, take public transport and see where you end up, volunteer and help others less fortunate, fundraise, do up a car together, make a go kart, bike ride, go check out some caves/old ruins, bake/cook, antique/collector shopping, start a stamp collection, restore old furniture, renovate their bedroom, take up a sport, chess club, games night, scouts, CFS, surf life saving. Put the effort in now and they will thank you later. They won’t be able to do this without their parents support, you are trying to change a major part of their life and its up to you to show them another way.
My husband and I have a list of digital boundaries that we expect the whole family to adhere to when it comes to screen time. This includes ourselves and we try hard to lead by example. Please download it here and take the first steps toward a way more satisfied family.
Thanks so much for your time in reading this, I pray you have been encouraged to be more intentional with technology in your home. Don’t forget to subscribe and keep up to date with new posts!