Recently I’ve been struggling a bit with the balance of what is the appropriate amount of time to allow kids to use electrical devices and when does it become too much. For a long time we used it as a reward system. Then there was a week when I was sick and it was a free for all, do as you please, just please let me rest to get better. What I noticed during that week was zoned out kids. As I look around now having had that realization, I notice more and more kids are zoned out and in their own world instead of moving and partaking in the world around them. The future of electronic gadgets is exciting, but the zoned out part is my fear for our kids if I ever release my Stalin like tendencies on their daily electrical time allotment.
What sparks kids to move these days? Our kids are motivated by trips to the park, swimming at the Y, trips to Mt. Rainer anything that keeps them in continual movement. However, everyday can’t be about trips to faraway places, but it can be about movement. When I hear those few little words “can I play on electronics” I reroute our kids to go for a walk or a bike ride, read a book or draw. Where is the next Leonardo Da Vinci going to come from if every kid has their head buried in a Tablet or PC? It’s a double edge sword because I realize a lot of amazing things can come from creating and playing on electronic devices, but a lot of trouble can come too.
When you look around the house and every person has their head buried in a phone, computer, tablet or even a television – it’s time to blow a referee whistle and break it up. We try to eat dinner at the table every night we are all home together, even on the late nights when dinner is at 8:30 pm. The break from everything, the personal connection, laughter and even blissful silence that come at the dinner table can ease a parents concern about whether they are connected with their kids or not.
Setting limits with electronics and encouraging family togetherness is all about setting an expectation for your kids about what they should practice as individuals – self-control and boundaries.
Establishing and maintaining time restrictions allows them to understand rules are made to be followed. Understand that you’re not a bad parent if you allow your kids to play on electronics; some purists may say you are, but it is truly the direction of their future. Providing boundaries and encouraging educational and creative use of apps and programs whenever possible ensures you’re putting in place expectations they can meet.
Make sure always to check in so they don’t check out. Talk instead of text, give them a hug before they walk out the door, no matter how old they are, and don’t allow electronics to keep your family from being connected.
“If the family were a boat, it would be a canoe that makes no progress unless everyone paddles”—LETTY COTTIN POGREBIN, Family and Politics