Thursday, March 09, 2017

Ways To Cut Down On Your Children's Screen Time

Are you sick of looking at the top of your kids head at dinner, in the car, or anywhere else? I know I am! I am even tired of looking at the top of their friend's heads when they come over.  Parents, we are not innocent either. How many of you can say that you are constantly on your phone? Checking Facebook, email, texts, weather, playing a game, reading a book, etc., We are all making connections virtually but isn't it time we make a conscious effort to put those phones down and connect with the people we love!?

My friends and I have been discussing this for a while now. Our kids are on the phone all the time. Not like when we were kids and our parents could tell us it was time to hang up because they needed the phone. There are so many ways for our kids to connect with the rest of the world but NOT with us. Even when their friends come over, I hear zero talking. Why? Because their friends have their faces in their phones.   Even after school I drive one of the kid's  friends home and have to say, "put your phone down" so we can talk.   When did a "play date" become quiet time? When I was a kid if my friend was with me we would never shut up. Now I can hear a pin drop even with three girls in the  house.

 My kids do not have actual phones. They have older phones that we no longer have service on that we have allowed them to use if they are able to connect to a network. At home this is easy.  Every once in a while they ask when they will have one like their friends and we tell them it is not necessary at this time and what they have is fine.

I have instituted a schedule for the house where ALL electronics need to be put down for a few hours. Today I have taken Facebook off my phone and will now only get on it when I have a chance to sit at the computer. It takes way too much of my time and while I will miss it eventually I will get use to it.  I hope that by my kids seeing me less on the phone they will follow but I also think all of us need to do this!  In the coming years our kids will be home less and less. Friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, jobs, college, and eventually a career, and family of their own means you will see them less and less. Time flies and we need to spend more time together.

Here Are 4 Ways To Cut Down Your Kids Screen Time:

1. FIRST! Cut down your own time. Spend more time being available and present. We all know our kids learn by example so be the example. Take Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or whatever off your phone.  You may not know everything the moment it happens but you will eventually hear it so it is OK...remove it. I did and it was easy.

2. Do not allow phones or tablets at the table, in the car (unless you are on a road trip over 35 minutes), during a movie, or in the bathroom (Why do we do this? Hanging on the toilet isn't good for anyone).

3. Set Limits - There should always be limits. There is no reason for someone to have their face in the phone all day.  And...make sure they shut their devices down an hour before bed. You can watch TV as a family, read a book, color, draw, or just sit and talk. It is OK to press the power button, we will all be OK. With Windows 10 you can set a timer on your child's computer. I have one on my son's but not my daughter's because she doesn't have Windows 10 yet. It is the best thing I ever did!

4. Keep them busy. Yes! This sometimes means you need to schedule things. It requires work on your part. Watch a movie, play a game, get your sleeping bags and head to the living room floor for a "sleep-over", go outside when the weather is warmer, get on your bikes, go to the park, get involved in a community clean up, volunteer at an animal shelter, clean together, organize closets, drawers, etc. If you are doing it together it goes fast, they stay busy and you have the opportunity to talk about everything and anything.

So, if you are looking for me please text me or better yet call me. I no longer have Facebook on my phone. We should talk. I can't wait to catch up with you.

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