It’s the question of the day. It’s what moms talk about at the bus stop. It’s what moms talk about at the playground. It’s what we ask each other on Facebook and on our monthly mom’s night out.
What are you doing about the kids and electronics?
I’d love to know how you’ve answered that question in the past (in the comments).
It’s a little overwhelming to navigate right? Our family has tried a range of solutions – but it always comes down to one thing. We have to help our children learn to self-moderate. And that’s true in all of life isn’t it? When they are babies, we start out by teaching them to self-moderate sleep and then as toddlers we teach them to self-moderate the potty business. Then when they hit kindergarten age, we have to help them learn to self-moderate their anger and mood without afternoon naps. And then it’s food – hopefully we are teaching them to self-moderate food intake.
So it should come as no surprise that we need to help our children learn to self-moderate electronics usage. And some of the same methods you’ve used to teach self-moderation for the last several years in all those other areas will be a big help. But now that your kids are older, getting them to buy in to the process and commit to self-moderation is key. That’s why I love The Smart Talk.
Here are six ways you can help your child learn to control his electronics usage.
Practice what you preach. If you spend all of your visible time playing iPhone games, guess what? Your kids will follow your example. I know this is true, because on more than one occasion I’ll say – okay boys it’s time to get off that screen and they will call me out for being on my screen for hours too!
Get moving. Create some good habits as a family that get your kids up and moving and learning. Go hiking together or walk the neighborhood together. Bike together. Climb through a creek together. Play board games and read books out loud to each other. So many fun activities do not involve screen time, and finding ways to incorporate those into busy family life is becoming a lost art.
Get both parents on the same page. It does no good for you to come up with guidelines and restrictions and plans if you are not both on board. Before you talk to your kids, talk to each other and agree on some basic goals for kids and electronics.
Plan a screen-free week. Sometimes just taking a long break from screens together can help everyone realize the negative impacts too much screen time is having on each one of us and our family life.
Talk about it. Talk about the benefits and the detriments of this hand-held electronics age with your kids. One-on-one or as a family, go over the situation as you see it and ask for input. What are some things we can do as a family besides video games? How do you feel after you sit on the couch for a few hours? I love the Smart Talk resource for exactly this purpose. It gives you a guide for talking about screen time in an affirming, nonjudgmental way.
Make a family covenant. A covenant is nothing more than a signed document of promise agreed upon by all parties. Using The Smart Talk to guide you, you can walk through the steps with your children and work out together exactly what screen time is going to look like in your home. Get buy-in from everyone and then get signatures. Make it special! Get some ice cream and make banana floats or something yummy. And then get down to business and put your new plan in writing.
National PTA and LifeLock created The Smart Talk—a free, online tool—to help families set ground rules for technology use and have open, ongoing conversations about online safety and responsibility. I loved The Smart Talk and found that it was incredibly easy to use because it literally walked us through each step of creating a covenant, and had extra questions to ask for discussion, leading us through a guided conversation about online safety and privacy, screen time, apps and downloads, texting and calling, and social media and respect.
When we were finished, we were able to print off an individualized contract for each child based on age and level of responsibility, and sign the contract together.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.