15 minutes. That’s how much screen time my first born had during his first year of life. No joke. I may be the only parent who lived up to (what was then) the American Association of Pediatrics’ limits on screen time for babies. Of course that was 14 years ago when screen time pretty much referred only to TV.
Now screens are everywhere and the child I lovingly shielded from them is a total addict. KidVuz co-founder Rebecca Levey asked in a recent Mashable column if we’re raising a generation of tech-addicted kids. She says tech, I say screens. Tomato, tomahto. It’s all the same; our kids can’t get enough.
Some of them, at least.
So how can you try to stop the inevitable? Honestly, I’m not sure we always can. Just hours from my deadline for this post, my teen did something in the name of trying to sneak in gaming time that broke both my heart and my trust for him. Nothing along the lines of, say, what you might remember from the movie Risky Business, but there was sneaking, an attempt to cover tracks and then lying. To me, his mother.
That kid is in for one helluva tech time out.Only sometimes need his computer for academic work and I don’t want him to be without a phone. Ugh. What is a modern parent to do?
But KidzVuz is about tweens, and I can share a few tips about keeping tech in balance without feeling like a complete fraud because my tween is cool with screens.
- Set expectations from the beginning. My blogfriend Karen Smith taught her children from a young age to ask for screen time the same way they would ask for snacks. That is, screen time isn’t just something you take, it’s something requires permission.
- TechMama Beth Blecherman wrote at Mashable that she likes to keep the homework separate from the gaming. It’s a good tip, but I have to admit I find this increasingly difficult to do because most of my boys’ games are on their computers or in the cloud, so they’re just a click away.
- Don’t give your kid a smart phone or internet-enabled device.
Regardless of how smart it is, there’s no need for tweens to cozy up with their phones at night. Tuck the kid into bed and rest the phone gently on your nightstand until morning.
Take a deep, cleansing breath before your read this next tip.
- Turn off the wifi. Yeah, I realize that hard-wired Ethernet is sooo 2005, and I balked when my husband announced there would be no wifi in the home we were renovating and currently live in. “I don’t want you surfing the web in our bed,” he argued knowing full well the kinds of things I like to look at online don’t tend to lead to romance.
Oh, this is supposed to be about tech-addicted tweens, not their moms (or older brothers), right? Lack of wifi means that when the kids want or need to be online, there are only a few spots in the home where they can do so. It makes it a tad easier to keep an eye on them online.
Given that my advice works 50% of the time, I’d love to hear your thoughts on keep tech in check. Or is tech addiction inevitable?