Oh, Mom guilt! Here’s a new take on the popular acronym OMG. I’ve got total Mom guilt over letting my two boys have too much screen time. How do you handle screen time in your house?
This was my first summer being home with the kids since leaving my full time job to pursue a freelance illustration career. It would have been easy to let them plug away on a screen all day so I could get some work done, but no, I fought it as best as I could. There was a lot of whining, crying, pleading, begging and sometime full out tantrums but eventually they fell into a routine of being upstairs entertaining themselves for the morning while I got work done. Afternoons we would try to get outside.
Then came the challenge of transitioning from summer to the homework and activity-laden evenings of back to school. My five year old constantly begged and tried to convince me it’s past 5pm so he can go on the iPad. My 9 year old should be doing his homework but is constantly asking if he can play video games. Most of the time I’m a pushover. I don’t want them under my feet while I’m cooking, and hey, kids need downtime too. But tonight I’m tightening the reins! Screens only after homework and dinner is over. No homework? Then choose a chore. I’ve written it on the internet so now I’m accountable for holding this up.
I’ve spoken with other parents. A lot of them say they have the “no video games during the week” rule but does passive watching like YouTube on an iPad count? Does eating in front of the latest cartoon on Netflix count? What about when they call you out for being on your phone too much?
Screens are becoming a larger and larger part of our lives. I’m not sure if I should be fighting it or accepting it and taking comfort that they’re becoming more familiar with future technology. They’re developing hand-eye coordination. Even some of my grade 4’s homework includes typing practice and using Prodigy to learn math is encouraged.
Here are some tips for how to manage screen time:
- Set a schedule - iPad and TV time for 1 hour after dinner and homework. This works great for younger kids as it creates a repetitive schedule that they can look forward to. It may get a little more complicated as after school activities enter the picture. You can use a timer that goes off at the end of the hour so that it’s not you always nagging them.
- Allow for a free day - Maybe pick one day on the weekend where it’s a free for all. We’ve been doing Friday-Sunday play as much as you want. However, I do enforce breaks and try to get the kids out of the house to break up those binges.
- Download a tracking app - If you can see how much the kids use you can also control it better. As well, they can see if they reached their limit. I know that a lot of these also have password protection so that kids need a parent to log in. I’ve never used one of these as I feel it’s a little “big brother is watching.” I’d rather set a schedule and stick to that. It’s also one more thing to set up and monitor.
Anyone have any advice on the matter? How do you navigate screen time in your home?