I’m constantly being asked how we achieve managing screen time so here’s a little insight into how we manage it with a 14, 12, 9 and 5 year old.
‘What works for us may not work for the next person.’
We’re not against screen time and believe that as long as there is a good healthy balance of fresh air, activeness and engaging interactions within the real world then screen time should not be a problem and is in fact very beneficial to the child.After all, our world has undoubtedly evolved and continues to do so in regards to screen time and computing technology and is a huge part of normality for our kids future.
That being said, it is so easy to lose them to devices if we allow it or neglect to oversee that they using their devices/the internet in a responsible manner.
Our main concern is the amount of screen time we allow our children to have and to help them maintain the ability to still be able to focus on the real world. To be able to engage in the real world and maintain the ability to interact with reality as a normality first and foremost.
From our own experiences (in raising a large family), we know that it is very easy to allow children too much screen time which can result in the child struggling to readjust with the real world when that screen time is taken away.
We can all be a casualty of too much screen time. Even as adults we can have too much screen time but we ourselves can self-regulate our time and have a greater ability to pull ourselves away, step back and switch off. Screen time can be likened to a drug that will pull you in and alter your focus.
BUT we still believe that screen time can be OK if it’s time consumption is managed and the brain is given time to avoid overload and given time to switch off.
As children, we spent hours upon hours watching TV and playing video games but we did OK And children today want to watch TV and play video games. It’s agreed the video games have changed but it still remains very much the same as when we were kids.
So we have a few simple rules in our house to try and find a balance.
Devices are NEVER allowed at the dinner table. We also like devices to be switched off 30 minutes before dinner and 30 minutes after dinner. (The 30 minutes after dinner is usually used up by the kids responsibly and collectively cleaning up after dinner: plates away, dishwasher emptied and filled, sides wiped down, etc). Devices are to be placed in the ‘device’s deposit’ during this time.
Devices are to be placed in the ‘devices deposit’ at 9pm by the 12 and 14 year olds. (8pm: 9 year old, 7pm: 5 year old)
The failure to do this will result in devices being placed in the ‘Devices Jail’ for 24 hours.
This rule applies to Mum and Dad to who are both obliged to leave their phones downstairs when they go to bed.
We strongly feel that this enables their brains to switch off from the over stimulation that devices bring and helps them to chill.
The above is carried out to our discretion and screen time will only be allowed if:
There is a good balance of additional activities that stimulate them: imaginative play, fresh air, drawing, colouring, reading real books, garden play/trampolining, interaction with other members of the family and be able to take part in conversations.
The kids are able to maintain a good attitude, are not moody or rude when away from devices and can have a giggle in other people’s company.
The kids can always think of an alternative thing to do other than a reliance of a device.
In regards to devices, the device is always available for a spot check without warning.
The App Store is not to be accessed without adult supervision or permission.
Most importantly though, as adults we are to lead by example and should we be challenged on our usage then we will also tow the line in ensuring that we do not get lost in our phones either.
Screen time isn’t bad for you when carried out in a manner that enables you to still fill function in the real world. But allowing yourselves to get lost on your device is not healthy and is detrimental to the whole family.
This works for us.
You can also see our suggested Bedtime Rules.
Take a look at how we have incorporated our screen time to outdoor fun with an outdoor cinema.
And how we built a space observation to learn about the night sky with a Space Observatory Box.
Check out our Outdoor Playstations
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