I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings, going to the kitchen getting some dry cereal, and turning on the television in the living room to watch cartoons. I remember coming home to watch after school specials. I remember playing video games (read: Atari and Nintendo) with my dad and begging my mother to let me play just one more time.
Screen Time wasn’t something our parents were concerned with. We never really had screen time rules as children. Probably because there weren’t children focused channels or Youtube or many handheld video games. Today things are different. Today we are told that television will rot our children’s brains. We are told that video games will make them violent. We are told that Youtube will give them ADD.
When our children are raising their children they might be told something else. Like most other parenting choices I think it’s up to you. I was allowed to watch scary movies and movies with profanity as a child. Some of my friends and family weren’t. I think I turned out okay.
JustaBXgirl isn’t allowed to watch certain shows I deem inappropriate. Some of her friends and family are allowed to watch those shows. JustaBXgirl is allowed to play on her iPad pretty much without restriction. One of her godbrothers isn’t. He has a set time limit each day.
I must admit though that JustaBXgirl has unlimited availability on both TV and iPad because she doesn’t ask for them all of the time. She can spend the whole day playing and not once ask me to turn on the television. She can start playing or watching something on her iPad then moments later walk away. One of my favorite things that she does is try to recreate the stories she sees in Youtube videos using her toys.
She definitely isn’t perfect though. Who is? At three, she sometimes can’t find a balance for herself. There are days when she will ask to watch television and forget to move for a few hours. There are days when she cries when I tell her that she cannot use her iPad. Some of her cousins will cry if told they can’t watch television or play on a device.
Those are the moments I watch out for. In those moments I realize that they are needing to be released from the magic of the “evil device.” I’ve learned the hard way that just taking the television and iPads away becomes a tragedy for them and a headache for me. Instead, I’ve imposed limits.
Here are my 4 tips on how to limit screentime:
- One Charge A Day – Devices are only allowed to be charged once. If it dies nobody is allowed to play on the device until the next day.
- TV Breaks – This is usually a weekend thing for me since JustaBXgirl doesn’t watch much tv if her cousins aren’t over. There are anywhere between 2 – 4 children at my house each weekend. When the television is turned on they each get a chance to pick a show. Once they’ve each had a turn the TV is turned back off. They now have to find other things to do to occupy their time for as long as they watched television. Once their playtime is over they’re allowed to repeat taking turns with the TV.
- Car Games – Rather than always allowing them to play on devices while grandpa is driving we play various versions of I SPY. We look for certain color cars. We try to identify the alphabet on signs and license plates.
- Unplug – This is the hardest for me. As a blogger, I’m constantly on social media or sitting in front of my computer. We must remember, children learn what they live. If they always see me having screentime why shouldn’t they be allowed? They don’t always realize that a lot of my time spent on the computer is for work and not play. I’m now making a significant effort at releasing my phone, at moving away from the computer.
What are some of the ways you’ve limited screen time?