It’s common these days to tell parents they need to limit the amount of screen time that their kids get. And that is a smart thing to do. But parents also should take a hard look at how much time they spend on their own screens. It’s probably more time than you think. There’s been some controversy lately about a campaign to convince parents to put down their phones and tablets and spend more time interacting with their kids.
The campaign was started by a teacher who said that she sees a lot of developmental delays and other problems in children today that she attributes to parents who aren’t engaging enough with their children, especially when their children are small.
At first I was tempted to roll my eyes and dismiss this campaign as one more way that parents get blamed for everything. But then, just as an experiment, I started logging my own screen time. And I was shocked to see that the minutes spent checking my emails, chatting on Twitter, or surfing on Facebook added up quickly to a huge amount of time that was being spent on the screen and not on my kids. And I couldn’t really tell my kids to limit their screen time without limiting my own too. Especially because I am guilty of logging more screen time than they are.
After logging all of my screen time for a week and being surprised. I decided I needed to make some changes. Big ones. I didn’t want to be a bad example for my kids and I didn’t want to be that person who is on her phone at every meal and during every task. So I started to put my hone away during family meals and when I was driving the kids all over the place. I made a point of engaging more with my family. And this is what happened when I did that:
My Kids Turned Of Their Phones Too
Like most parents, I was constantly yelling at my kids. I kept telling them to put their phones down. But not putting my own down. And like most kids they almost ever listened. But once I started physically turning off my phone and putting it in another room during family meals or family team I noticed that my kids started to do the same thing. And I made sure that I always said yet when they asked if I wanted to play a game or watch a movie together as a family instead of all of us sitting around on our phones. And the more time I was off the phone the happier I was.
The Kids Got Over It
Sure, at first the kids told me that they wouldn’t respect their screen curfews. That I was the worst mom in the world. But I stood firm on my rules about limiting screen time. Then I limited my own screen time. The kids respected the boundary I had set, because I set it for myself too.
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