Have I mentioned how nice you look today?
No, well you look lovely.
An image of beauty, really Mom!
How strange would that sound coming from your 8 year-old son? From what I’ve seen of “kids these days” I don’t actually hear much of anything from them. Compliment or otherwise. It is getting harder and harder to have a real connection, a real conversation without their eyes darting somewhere else or their mind getting off track and thinking about how to beat the next level of their favorite game. That’s right, I’m talking about screen-time.
Just to be clear, I’m not here to tell you I have everything figured out. I’m also not about to tell you my son is some sort of exception who has no desire to play video games or phone games or even “veg” out on the couch.
I will tell you that I’m seeing a generation of zombies rising up, in the most cynical way. I see it in my son and in his friends. I see it at the grocery stores, at parks and even in tv shows. It feels like there are only two camps here. You’re in or you’re out.
I have friends who are out. 100% out. No video games, no phone games, no tv. Out out out. They are probably known as extremists or “super-hippies”. To me, they are my friends, just trying to parent their kids in the best way they know how.
I have friends who are in. Absolutely “phones games save me from parenting” in. They are probably known as lazy parents or too passive and not really into discipline. To me, they are my friends, just trying to parent their kids in the best way they know how.
Then there is the majority of us. We allow some screen-time, but see the zombie issue as well and are trying to find balance.
What Do You Do With Your Screen-Time Zombie?
So what do we do as parents raising kids in this screen-time zombie era? We do the best we can for the child we have. We make sure we know our kids. Really know them. What foods they like, what’s going on at school, what is bothering them, what do they want to be when they grow up, and what games are they playing?
When you let your child play games, or have “screen-time”, pay attention to what it is they are doing. I have been alarmed one too many times when I’ve seen the game my son was playing was innocent enough, but the ads were not.
Similarly, if you choose not to allow your child to watch anything right now, please prepare them for when that day comes. Don’t ignore hard topics of what is appropriate and what is not. The last thing you want is for your child to go over to a friend’s house and see something inappropriate on the computer, but not know to look away or even if it’s okay for them to tell you about it.
Make Room For Communication
Let’s open the door for communication with our kids, and set limits as needed. Every kids is different. I’m currently raising my son to have 30 minutes a day for screen time and he chooses what device that is on. Watching a family movie together is our exception to the rules. I am teaching him to monitor his own time, because I believe he’s at a great age to understand the value of trust between a child and his parents.
I’m not going to give you any ideas for reward systems. I know you’ve probably seen them on Pinterest or other blogs. For example, my husband originally thought the amount of time outside should equal the time inside on a video game. That sounds good at a glance, but when you dig a little deeper, you are teaching your kids that screen-time is something they should work towards, that it is the ultimate goal and reward. If this were the rule for my son, he’d purposefully sit outside for 4 hours, come inside and expect that he gets 4 straight hours of screen-time.
I want this screen-time to be a part of life, but not the goal in life. I am well aware that some of the biggest careers are in apps and gaming right now. Many students need these computer skills to be able to adapt to the life up ahead for them. I will not take away screen-time from my son. I will also not make it something to be worked towards as if it is the most important thing in his life.
Maybe by doing this, and working on balance, our children will still grow in their communication and connection abilities. I believe so!
What strategies work well for you and your family when it comes to battling the screen-time zombie?