Figuring Out How to Manage Screen Time for the Whole Family
I spend half my time these days setting timers and yelling from the other room, “Time to get off that thing!”
The other half of the time is spent reading Facebook posts with stories like “What screen time can really do to kids’ brains” and “8 smart ways parents can manage screen time and not lose their minds.”
How much screen time is a daily argument in our home. Sometimes we can’t stand to see them on electronics for one minute, lamenting the fact that it’s gorgeous outside and no one wants to go in the woods behind our house and just explore. Other days – when the laundry is piling up and we just need a quiet moment in the house – we quote articles with headlines such as “More screen time for kids isn’t all that bad.”
So, basically, we’re all over the map. And talking to our friends, we’re not alone. Gen X parents like us can remember when our moms kicked us out of the house all day to run around the neighborhood and not come home until dinner. But we didn’t have smartphones, iPads, laptops, Xboxes and 55-inch screens with every new movie to tempt us to stay in.
Back in the day if we stayed in, we were lucky if there was anything on TV because you only had a handful of channels to choose from, and you had already watched every rerun of The Brady Bunch. And we could have watched movies on our new VCR, but that was only if Mom could figure out how to work the dang thing.
So, sure, it was a heck of a lot easier to just jump on our bikes, find the neighborhood gang and go exploring (or ride over to the forbidden Texaco station to buy candy cigarettes).
Jason and I aren’t even helicopter parents, and it still takes everything we have to convince our kids to go outside, jump on their bikes and go! I am giving them a free pass to leave their parents and do whatever they want in the neighborhood, yet the call of Roblox and Minecraft are too much, pulling them in, in, indoors.
Sometimes I blame myself for all of this. We need to carve out more time to spend with them, where we are just focused on them – riding bikes together or working on a craft together or playing a board game. That would keep them off the screens and doing something more active and creative. But then I think about my childhood and I can’t remember a time when my parents were with us on one of those long summer days where we were out of the house playing, riding and exploring until dark.
I don’t have the answers for screen time. I mean, if I’m honest, I need the same screen time leash as my kids. We all do. But this is the new world. Screens definitely aren’t going away so we all have to find the right balance.
And that leads me to the best answer I have … All things in moderation. Screens aren’t evil, but they can be. All in moderation. The best thing we can do as parents of the iGeneration is strike a balance for our kids. All in moderation. It will all be OK.