Two hours, twice a week? Six hours, every day? None? Whenever? What difference does it make if your children are on electronics?
The whole world is being driven by electronics in one way or another! Good old-fashioned pen and paper is dying out and the use of computers is an absolute skill our children must know but when is enough, enough? With children on electronics for up to several hours a day, how much time spent on them is the limit? How do we know what is O.K? We try to balance our on/off screen time and we have no idea if it’s right, but its working for us at the moment. Find out below what we do.
Love-hate relationship with children on electronics
Electronics in our house is a real love hate relationship. I hate how much time can be spent on them but love the peace and quiet at times! Not going to lie, it can be a blissful way to keep four children entertained and out of the way whilst we get on with something, but how do you control or set the limits?
Firstly, let me start by telling you why we call it “electronics” in our house. Our four children are very smart and crafty! One day I said they were banned from the Xbox due to behaviour, off they went disgruntled but fine, victory I thought, until I turned around 20 minutes later to find them all on a tablet of some description!! Are you kidding me? I just banned you all, nope, I banned them from the Xbox not the tablet, so the tablet got added quickly too. Feeling smug I left the room, how silly was I, they all went to a mobile phone, arghhhhhhhhh. So, to close all loopholes, I now say “electronics” (TV is not included) it covers them all and we all know where we stand.
Creating the balance of on/off screen time
Over the past few years we have tried many ways to make sure there is a balance between keeping up with technology, their friends, homework, reading, family time etc and our children on electronics. It is not easy, and we certainly haven’t completely mastered it, but we are getting there. I’ll let you know what we do, and I would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions you might have to help.
We started by having at least one day a week where there are no electronics allowed at all, currently this is a Wednesday, a mid-week break. Our school nights are Sunday through to Thursday, Friday night and Saturday are a bit more relaxed, but on a school night they come home get on with reading for 15 minutes followed by homework, once this is done they can then have some electronics time. This time is usually broken up with house chores, dinner and a dog walk too. At 8PM all electronics including mobiles must be put in the lounge and that’s it for the evening. Chloe being younger has a cut off time at 7PM. I know it can still be a couple of hours at a time that they are having screen time, but they are playing together, chatting with friends (spot checked to make sure they are friends!) and it usually leads to other things being done, for example, they love to watch YouTube, so that will lead to an epic build of various things from Lego they’ve seen, or they will go and make something they’ve watched like the current slime craze. Summertime is different though, they will go out and play football, go to youth clubs or bike rides and so screen time is cut much shorter, roll on Summertime! It’s all about balance and we are proactively trying, its not right or perfect but its working for us and when its gets too much, they are arguing about who’s turn it is or he’s deleted my world (seriously, I do laugh at the things they moan about!), or one of them is being unkind to another that’s it, its enough and we go on a ban!
No means no more!
Every now and then I will just say no to screen time and they must come and join us, we’ll do a family film night, or play a game, go for a walk etc. We did try a family games night but our timetables are forever changing and so we can’t really set an exact night, we just try to make a conscious effort to do it. This works for us.
This is working for us now, there is time spent together, school work is done, reading completed, chores finished, and they get their electronics time too. If any of the important things start to suffer, school work and grades etc, we will reflect, adapt and try again.
I’m sure we can still make improvements, and we will as they get older and we will change it accordingly. I’m just hoping we are near to a good balance, it feels like it for us, because no one really knows what is right or wrong! How much time is too much for children on electronics? The world is changing and so must our expectations…
Jemma Louise Mc xxx
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