Screen time and the effect that it has on kids seems to be a hot topic right now…do you limit it, or does it benefit our kids in an ever-changing world of technology? There are parents and educators on both sides of the fence.
In our house we do not limit screen time, we like to emphasize the importance of creating balance and instilling priorities and decision making skills in our kids. Now, do not get me wrong, we do not allow our kids to just sit on their iPads all day, but we believe in self-moderation.
Remember back to when you were a kid. Is there one thing you would like to do when your parents were not around? Often times, it is the things that we are not allowed to do that make us want to do them even more.
I know when we were kids we were always trying to convince our babysitters to allow us to partake in things that our parents did not allow. For some reason it just appeals so much more when it is something that is restricted.
Now that I have kids I can see this exact same concept happening. As soon as I say they are not allowed it makes them want it even more.
Whenever our kids got iPads I was so worried about them spending too much time on it when they could be doing other activities. I would hear other parents complaining about the fights they had with their children and taking away their devices as punishment. I knew I did not just want to use it as a form of punishment because technology is an important part of our everyday lives and will be for their future.
Instead of focusing on limiting their time or making them do certain things before they can enjoy their iPads we like to help teach them certain behaviors for making their own decisions.
Regardless of your thoughts on the topic, we would all agree that it’s all about priorities and what is best for the child. Here are some ideas on why we do not restrict screen time for our kids.
Importance of Not Limiting Screen Time for Kids
How often do you use technology?
Part of succeeding in today’s world is having access to and an understanding of technology. As adults, we rely on our smartphones, computers and tablets to enable us to be successful in business and daily life. Just as we need the skills necessary to switch from one technology source to another, so will our children as they get older. Teaching them those skills and the appropriate use of technology will help steer them in the right direction so that they, too, can be successful.
I like them to look at it as a learning device with endless possibilities. We are always looking for new educational games and apps to help foster their learning along with the physical activities that we do in our home.
A greater lesson to teach our children is what to prioritize in life. While, yes, technology is vital to being successful in the world around us, so are the people skills that are so often lost in the shuffle. As parents, instilling a love of books, being with other people and engaging in non-technological activities will help children to see that there is more to life that TV, video games and iPads. One of our biggest jobs as parents is to teach them to value the non-technological parts of life.
This is definitely a tough concept as a parent because it is difficult to teach them everyday skill like decisions making and prioritizing. Below you will find one way that we do this in our home.
Make a Goal of Self-Regulation
As children grow and develop, they will undoubtedly need to access computers and tablets for school, as well as will want to watch the occasional show or movie. That being said, making a goal of the child having the ability to choose to go to the park over watching TV will help instill their ability to choose not to always be in front of a screen.
Early-on, conversations at home may encourage outdoor play or reading books during times when the child is more likely to want to watch TV. Rather than giving a set time limit in front of a screen, helping to teach a young child that regulation will help them to internalize those personal limits for use as they get older.
My kids will always choose going outside or doing a craft project over playing on their iPads. I know this will probably change as they get older but if I help to teach them self-regulation now they will hold these values as they mature and get older.
Kids Practice What They See
As you are working with your young child on self-regulation and taking quality time away from the screen, you must also be ready to model what you are trying to teach. This may be the most difficult part of teaching your child to prioritize. If, for example, you are headed to the park (rather than watching TV) your smartphone needs to remain at home. If the message is to engage in other activities, you must show your child that you also see it as a personal priority.
If you expect them to make the decision to play at the park and not be on their devices then you too need to be there in that moment and play with your kids instead of watching from the bench as you scroll through Facebook. Your kids will learn through your actions.
When you are reading with your child, select books rather than your tablet. Not only will this help your child to see the important parts of reading text (how to turn the pages, the way that we read left to right, etc.) but it also gives the message that quality time together doesn’t always mean a screen is in front of you.
While it is important that you put away the screen when you are engaging in quality time with your child, it is just as important that you occasionally explain that you must get some work done and then use your laptop or phone. Helping your child to see that you regulate your use of technology and set time that you must use it will help them to do the same.
What are your thoughts about the importance of not limiting screen time for kids? Please share your thoughts.