When is the Right Time for Screen Time?

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Why is each generation getting more and more focused on screens? As technology advances so does the attraction to this technology. Some of this is driven by the kid’s interest and some by the parent’s desire to have something else entertain their child. Does this mean that the child should have unlimited screen time? I think not!

I have done some observing of behavior from my kids during different times of day and by age of kid. What I have found with all my kids is that if they start their day with screens, it is REALLY hard to get them to focus on anything educational for the day. This includes TV watching. My youngest is especially bad about this.

When my 5 year old starts her day using a device or watching TV, it is hard to get her to deviate from it. Attention spans of the very young are short as it is. I believe this is why devices are particularly addicting to them. There is constant change in activity or the ability to jump from one thing to another is really easy on a device. Even the TV can be changed from one show to the next at the click of a button. The days I get her engaged in educational endeavors before a screen, she is able to focus for a longer period of time with me.

For my 7 year old, watching TV during lunchtime is her weakness. She likes to watch something when she eats but when this is allowed, it is hard to get her to stop the show when eating is done and re-focus on educational endeavors. For home schooling, this is a challenge. We either need to choose a show that is 10-15 minutes long and then turn the TV off or she will select one episode after another.

The 11 year old has different weaknesses. He has a specific show that he is obsessed with watching over and over. We have to make sure he is completely finished with his days school work and chores before he is allowed to watch it. He will literally sit and watch the entire multi-season show from start to finish if he was allowed to. We would rather his focus be on improving a physical skill than watching episodes multiple times of the same show. He is a wonderful artist and we have to try to engage his focus on that instead of allowing never ending screen time.

Lastly, the teenager has a video game addiction. He has worked, saved his money and built his own gaming computer. I am hoping to get him to write a post for me on how to do that, but that is for a later time. He researches and studies how to make his gaming more advanced. He admittedly is on a device more than he should be. Between his computer and his phone, he is often on a screen. Teenagers are hard to limit. We give him things to do, keep him involved in church activities, sports, going out with friends, etc to get him off the screens some more. He is responsible to get his work done and generally has a good attitude about deviations from his plan. We do have to make sure he finishes his daily chores before evening or he sometimes gets stuck in his gaming and they don’t get done.

This brings me to the topic of limiting screen time. We are bad at our house about TV watching. We all enjoy a good movie and since my husband and I do movie reviews, we are often watching things. We do try to make sure the kids don’t start their day watching TV. It is important that they get a good amount of educational learning in a day. Since later in our day gets very busy, the education focus needs to be earlier in the day. We have told the older kids that they are not to have any screen time, unless they are using it to do their school work, until after their day’s lessons are completed and they have done their daily chores. The youngest likes to try to sneak her tablet and play it in a closet or under a blanket so we have set times allowed on her device. She is not allowed to use her tablet until after 11am (the tablet will just show a screen design of a bear sleeping) and she only gets 2 hours of total screen time a day. If she hasn’t used her 2 hours by 8pm, it will show the sleepy bear screen again so she knows she can’t use it.

How much screen time I get greatly affects my day as well. I do a lot of work on a device so I have to be careful and creative how I use my time in a given day. I don’t want my kids to see me on a device all the time, yet I have work I need to do digitally for them and me so I have to implement a little strategy. I try to make “to do” notes in a notebook, do my Bible time, scheduling, meal planning, blog post lists, etc on paper so that I am working or planning but not on a device. I need to be better about this than I am but it is a work in progress. I try to do the bulk of my computer time in the evenings or weekends so that they see me engaging with them. I still get comments from them that I’m on my device a lot too when they get in trouble for being on theirs too much. We all have work to do in our home in improving one on one time and utilizing digital devices less.

The digital age is tough to balance. So many are losing their connections to each other personally and many interpersonal skills are lacking for these technological generations. My kids are always curious about what I did before computers, cell phones and internet. Not every home had computers, most didn’t have cell phones and the internet wasn’t a thing until I was in college. My generation played in the streets, we walked to local stores, we went to each other’s houses and had certain times to be home because we didn’t have a way for our parents to get a hold of us. So much has changed for the good and for the bad. Emergency response time is quicker with these advancements but our children’s ability to socialize face to face with other humans has taken a hit. We do our best to give them those personal skills but there is a definite difference from our generation. How do you feel this is going in your home? Do you have similar struggles as us?

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Our Daily Dealings is written by a husband and wife team and some guest authors. We come from very different backgrounds, family, cultural units but we have found a way to make 20 years work. We are so glad you are here and appreciate your support. Thank you for giving us even a few minutes of your time and we would covet your comments! Hope you have a great day!

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