Week 44: Learning Balance With Screen Time Rules
Screen time. This is a topic that is rife with issues for most parents. It causes guilt, worry, arguments, struggles, limits, and rules. If you’re like me, you’ve tried a lot of different ways to curb screen time. I’m sorry to say I don’t have the answer! I do, however, have a tool that can help a lot of families.
The Trip Clip’s custom list will let you easily create screen time rules that work for your family, and writing them down and posting them someplace visible can work wonders.
I created a similar kind of list for the summer which was also very popular: School Holiday Rules.
And there is a great article on Bounceback Parenting about how to set good rules for your family.
Instead of Setting a Time Limit
For a while we tried setting a timer, but for many reasons that caused more problems than it solved. Now we talk to our kids not about limiting their screen time, but instead about making sure that screen time supplements other activities. Making sure that they do something productive, active, or creative for half an hour each day that doesn’t involve a screen can be a very positive way to approach the problem.
Not All Screen Time Is Equal
Another thing that we talk about in our house is that there are different kinds of screen time. Instead of putting a blanket limit on screen time, try taking into account the kinds of screen time your kids are having, and then aim for balance.
This idea was started by our kids – they were quick to point out how much time my husband and I spend on screens. We both work in the tech industry, so it’s hard to argue with them on this point. We use our computers to talk to and collaborate with coworkers, to do research, to read news, and to create (I use a computer to create my product, The Trip Clip!). And yes, we also use our screens for entertainment, but even that is not all “bad”. I now prefer to read on a mobile device because that way I have my current book with me wherever I go. I also read all of my news electronically, and love the wide variety of sources and the ease of quickly fact checking or doing more research about what I’m reading. In previous generations, we wouldn’t have criticized someone for reading the morning paper, yet somehow that act feels less virtuous now if you’re doing it on a screen.
This same idea of screens being valuable translates to our kids as well. Really, we should embrace kids having screen time. In today’s world, screen time is a given, even a necessity. It enhances communication and collaboration, and it offers exposure to a bigger world and broader ideas. My husband and I want our kids to be well-versed in technology. And it’s important for us to remember that not all screen time is junk time, or wasted time, or purely entertainment.
So we try to pay attention to what kind of screen time our kids are having, and make sure that we aim for balance, not just for a certain time on the clock. It’s not a perfect solution, but we feel good about helping our kids embrace a more digital world, and take advantage of all the good things it has to offer, rather than only seeing the bad.