More than ever before, our children are getting more screen time: computers, tablets, smart phones, Wii, Xbox, iPads and yes television too – how much is too much and what will the long term effects be psychologically and physically?
Every time I pick up a newspaper, magazine or watch the news I am told by child experts everywhere that we as parents, must limit our children’s time on these devices for reasons too many to name. I’m not going to get into the pages and pages of reasons why The American Academy of Pediatrics say they recommend no more than two hours for an elementary age child nor will I quote the report from the Mayo Clinic that analyzes the effects of too much screen time that they find leads to obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems, impaired academic performance, less time for creative and active play and increase in violence…whew!
During the summer holidays my husband and I watched the “addiction” our children have to these devices and how they would go through withdrawal when the devices were removed for a period of time. We unfortunately witnessed increased aggression and mood swings when they were asked to put the devices away. Now understand, that the majority of family and friends believe our children to be well behaved, polite, articulate and caring children – and they are all of these things… when NOT under the influence of electronics. We decided desperate measures were needed.
Awwww the birth of the “Electronic Junkies” Board.
We explained to them that we wanted to continue to foster their independence and to encourage them, as young teens to take responsibility for their actions. Then we described a plan that we were implementing that we hoped would remove the negative interactions between parent and child that had become an everyday occurrence, regarding electronics. We clarified to them that we felt that they were old enough to manage their own time on their electronic devices; that we didn’t want the anger and confrontations that we have had in the past, and that we had certain parameters we insisted they agree to, prior to putting the plan into action.
Our parameters are:
- All homework and chores must be completed prior to electronic time;
- Electronics may include an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Computer, DS’s, Wii and/or Xbox;
- Seven hours of electronic use per week in ½ hour increments will be provided at the beginning of each week;
- Their electronic privileges can be revoked as a consequence.
I then created 14 tokens [7 hours of ½ hour increments] that they remove from a provided envelope and hand over to either my husband or I. We agree on the time on the clock and the time that he/she will finish and set the alarm. They are to turn the device off when the time is up and the alarm goes off – if it is not turned off on time, 1/2 hr of device time will be removed from the envelope as a consequence.
7” x 10” chalkboard
1 mini paper bag [one for each child – labeled with their names]
14 tags [per child]
14 self adhesive labels printable [per child]
This has worked so well … our kids are now planning and managing their electronics time. They are honoring the perimeters set out and there has been not conflict between parent and child – I’d say this is a winner!