I came across an interesting article this week on apps that help you control your use of apps – and other digital distractions! Have you ever thought about how much of your day is spent on a screen? Most of us think that it’s not much, and yet we keep our phones at the ready in outside pockets, our kindle sits on the desk waiting for break time and a good read, and the laptops are there when we quickly want to know the difference between Instagram and Snapchat. Now, if we are so enamored with our devices, what about the kids?
I recently gave a talk titled “Reducing Kid’s Screen Time … Without the Battle,” to a group of parents who were quite frustrated with trying to handle their kid’s use of technology. I divided the talk into two parts because I felt that there were two distinct areas that had to be considered.
Part One: Your Relationship with Your Kids
Part One included spending a lot of time talking about Your Relationship With Your Kids, i.e. Who is in Charge? I reminded them that ultimately it is the parent’s job … to parent. I suggested they give themselves a little test and try being the objective person who looks in on the family dynamic, and then answer that question: Who is in Charge?
Regardless of the whining or the reasoning or the quality of the tantrum, it is the parent who has the power over both the child and the device. I shared a few basic rules that I feel are important when dealing with kids and technology. They are simple and straightforward.
6 BASIC RULES FOR KIDS + TECHNOLOGY
1 – Give kids a 10 minute warning before unplugging (and let them keep the timer)
2 – No technology use in the bedroom
3 – No technology use in the car (except long-distance car trips)
4 – No technology use during meals
5 – Devices must be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime
6 – Parents control the central charging station – often the kitchen
Part 2: Your Relationship with Technology
Now I think you see where I’m going with Part Two in the challenge of reducing kid’s screen time, The Relationship With Yourself. This is a very important part of the dynamic because children are copycats, and you are their ROLE MODEL. Whether you signed up for that job or not, you’re it.
This is where awkward comes in. We all love our devices. We defend them as time savers, gold mines of research, our link to friends and family, and so much more. We often deny that we use them ‘that much,’ and we even get mad at store clerks and receptionists who are checking their email and Facebook. In fact, I’ll bet that you would be truly surprised to find out how much time in a day you actually spend in front of a screen.
Because I want you to realize how your day is spent, and because I want to remind you that you are your child’s role model, and because I think that we all need to make more time to interact with each other, I offer this article. Become familiar with apps like StayFocusd, Momentum., and RescueTime. I intend to. The more you are in control of your own screen time activities, the more time you will have for your family.
Now, go play with your kids.