We are SO lucky to have so much technology at our fingertips, and I, for one am grateful for it. Instant, on-demand shows, movies and games all so easy to access and so made-to-order. Gone are the days of the whole family crowded around a television. Now all four members of my family can easily view different things on their own devices. Super cool!
And how about that free babysitter? At any point in the day, I have the capability to throw on a favorite show for my 3-year old, and she’ll be quiet, still and happy for an indefinite amount of time, so I can achieve something or have time space to just be when I need it. You have to admit that’s a blessing!
But with this amazing technology comes a lot of decision-making on my part as a mom. How much tv time do I allow a day? How much iPad time? What apps should they have access to? What about video games on the Wii? It takes a lot of proactive limit setting and trial and error. For example, when my son was just two and already super savvy on the iPad, I let him pretty much have free rein of YouTube. He would surf toy review videos, clicking one after the other into infinity. Let’s just say, I never allowed my younger child on YouTube unless I was actively watching with her. Lesson learned.
After all my trial and error, I’ve kind of landed upon a schedule of 2 bites of screen time a day. When it’s just me and the kids – In the morning, they can have screens while I take a shower. Then in the evening, usually before or after dinner, they can watch an hour of tv, watch a movie or play a video game. That’s our schedule, sometimes we deviate, and I’m sure yours is different. And that’s all great.
Now here’s the kicker that makes all this technology truly a blessing – I use this screen time as an incentive for good behavior and take it away as a consequence. Believe it or not, it took me a while to figure out this little tidbit of magic. For so long, screen time was a NECESSITY. How do you ensure your 18-month old doesn’t climb on top of the table and kill herself while you’re cleaning the bathroom? Technology!! But now my kids are older, and can amuse themselves safely while they aren’t being directly supervised for short periods of time, so things are easier.
So, later on, I figured out how to actually use technology for not only my benefit, but as a tool for raising my children into healthy, happy, good members of society. For example, if my son is having a rough morning on a weekend, no tv in the morning. If he’s had a bad day at school, no iPad in the evening. Now truth be told, it hurts me a little to take away this screen time – ok a lot. Because it feels like I’m punishing him AND ME. Instead of watching tv, he will probably run around like a psycho yelling his head off (Ah, boys. Thank goodness for basements.) But it works.
On the flip side, I also reward my kids for good behavior with a movie and popcorn on weekends. Or I’ll let them watch a whole morning of shows on PBS, just because it’s “how Mom used to have to watch tv. Quirky, eh?.” Sometimes I’ll take them out to a movie too, just for some real nostalgia.
Let’s be real though, raising and disciplining our kids is hard. And you have to do what works for each child. For mine, who are absolutely obsessed with technology, taking away screens is a pretty easy and quick fix. So we make it all work for us, instead of against us. Yay, technology!
Emma’s spinning plates include momming, wifing, substitute teaching and running her small business with Trades of Hope. When she isn’t busy with that, she can be found bullet journaling, organizing, knitting, baking, traveling, reading, dating her husband and hanging out with friends and family, all while listening to music. She is British, an ongoing survivor of bipolar disorder and an avid Belieber.