A huge debate I find interesting is screen time, and how parents manage it, not just for their children, but for them too.
In my blog ‘School Ready‘, I mentioned about my research with some local primary schools and the majority of EYFS teachers had stated that many children are now starting school with limited understanding of social interactions, communication skills and struggle to follow basic 2 key word level instructions, and the general reason for this is thought to be that children AND PARENTS being exposed to too much ‘screen time’.
Technology is everywhere and I do not dispute the fact that children need to be healthily educated to use it in the appropriate circumstance, in fact it came in very handy when my children where going through the ‘why?’ stage, we just ‘Googled’ everything!! To some extent I was also educated in many subjects I had never thought to question before, but the inquisitive minds of a 2 or 3 year old is mightily fascinating.
At this stage we only owned a very slow laptop and my husband and I had smartphones, (but not for the children)
It wasn’t until Mr. 8 started school 4 years ago and was going around friends house to ‘play’ that my niggles and fears began, I’d ask him what he’d played at their house and his reply ‘play station’ *gasp* ‘You’ve been there 3 hours and only played on the Playstation??!!!’ or, depending on the friend it may have been ‘X-box’. Either way it filled me with despair and dread, I didn’t even know what games they were playing, were they appropriate? what did a 4/5/6 year old need with a Playstation anyway??!! What happened to imagination? Exploring? Den building? Board games?
Well, it was here that my husband and I decided, that despite Mr. 8 wanting one for Christmas, there’s certainly no reason for us to buy one if he’s accessing one regularly at his friends houses!! Secondly, how anyone affords them in the first place is beyond me!
So that Christmas we bought him a child’s tablet with one games app (I think it was Angry birds at the time), and inside the box were ‘rules’ from Santa, such as; not to be played with before school, always ask mummy and daddy to play with it’ etc. He loved it, and I can honestly say, he’s had a lot more use from it than he would of a Playstation/X-box. He was able to use Google, You Tube and Spotify too! Parenting success! 🙂
As of September 2016, Mr 8’s homework was computer based, with a super slow laptop and a child’s tablet, I’m not sure there’d be much ‘home’work going on, so that Christmas we upgraded to a family computer for us all to share.
January 2017, saw a family meeting discussion on the new house rules including our ‘screen-time sticks’, pictured below.
Red are Miss 3’s and green are Mr 8’s, for each chore they complete they are allowed a screen time for the number of minutes on the stick.
Screen-time can be computer or TV it’s their choice. Screen time is only allowed after spellings, reading and homework are completed. There is no screen-time before school. Clear boundaries for both aged children to understand.
Weekends are more flexible as we may have film nights together etc.
This is currently working really well, although I’m finding Mr.8 is enthused to do everything, while Miss 3 has little interest in any sort of screen time but still wants to help make dinner :).
So if that’s the children, what about us parents?
Do you have concerted screen down time?
MASSIVE MASSIVE PET HATE ALERT!!!!!!
It really frustrates me when a child who has been at school all day comes running out, excited to see their parent who has a phone 3 inches from there face and their thumb going at a rapid rate of knots-for if they don’t send that most important text, or like their friends most important post on Facebook the world will end, and clearly parents are finding these things more important, than face to face interactions with their child!Grrrrrrrr!!
I know it’s hard! I have to make a concerted effort, to put (& leave!!)my phone in the kitchen while, I help the children with homework, read, spellings and have a little play together.
Screen-times at meal times??-how do you eat yours??? Ours is most definitely a screen-down-time rule and absolutely NO exceptions (my husband finds this hard). We all eat together as often as we can (hubby works shifts and I work late some evenings). We talk together about our day, what we liked, didn’t like and so on . It sounds like a cliche, but it works for us and I can honestly say it is more than valuable.
So before you have more social interactions with your 200+ Facebook ‘(sort of) friends’, than you do your own child, think twice before reaching for that screen, and you need to be honest with yourself!
Listen to your child and more importantly value their conversation.
Children spell love T….I….M….E!!
P.S I’m writing this while my munchkins are in the land of nod xx