If you are a parent, chances are you have a love-hate relationship with screens. Especially if your child is into Fortnite, Roblox or Minecraft. Or maybe they are watching the newest toy reveal on YouTube Kids? Or watching a famous YouTuber play their favorite video game? Are you TIRED of nagging your child to get off screens? Do you get frustrated with all the nagging? Does your child get impatient and argue with you because you keep repeating yourself? Do you find you become irritated with all the nagging?
I know. I’m there with you.
It’s hard raising a child in today’s world because screens add an additional layer of complexity to parenting. Chances are you cannot ask your own parents for advice because they might not have had the internet back then. Even knowing what I know, it can STILL be a challenge. Believe me, we have had our fair share of screen time battles. And still do. Every. Day.
Facebook depression, cyberbullying, video game addiction: Parenting is more complex since screens came into the world
Now that we are ALL plugged in, it has ushered in a new era of parenting woes and challenges. We now have seen new issues such as video game addiction, social media drama, “Facebook depression”, and cyberbullying. We have heard about the more scary possibilities of accidental exposure to scary images or a chance meeting with a predator lurking where our children are playing, socializing and exploring–virtually online.
However, we must acknowledge that not everything about screens is “bad.” There are plenty of educational offerings and ways technology can bring families together.
RELATED: Six Screen-time Studies that Changed my Parenting Approach (Stuart Dredge, Medium.com)
Educate yourself so you know the facts.
The thing we can do is educate ourselves about every trend or app your child is showing interest in. Start co-viewing screens with them. Ask them to teach you about it. You can set a rule that you have to preview apps or games first. Head to Common Sense Media to do your own homework on everything digital (including info on movies, books, apps and games) plus reviews from actual parents and children. Ideally, before making your decision or before your child wears you down with repeated asks.
You can also educate yourself and your child by watching Screenagers and Screenagers Next Chapter. These are documentaries produced by a physician and filmmaker, Dr. Delaney Rushton, who started on her own crusade to handle the messy world of tech given her own experiences in her family and the countless families she cares for.
Viewing this and talking WITH your child afterwards can be just the conversation jump starter you need. Hearing real life stories of real tweens and teens struggling with moderating their use, making choices, their thoughts about what they are seeing and having to grapple with can make it easier for you and your child to have meaningful conversations about it.
You can search for screenings in your local area by going here. If there isn’t one readily available or close to you, just watch the trailer above WITH your child and sign up for Dr. Rushton’s blog posts: Tech Talk Tuesdays when you visit the website link.
Click here for the Next Chapter Trailer, which looks at ways to HELP teens thrive amid living in the digital world we live in.
What if I want to take a more preventive approach? “I’m saying NO to all screens as long as I can.”
Of course, you can always take the stance of PREVENTION and limit access to screens as much as possible and as long as possible. Visit Wait until 8th for resources and sign the pledge.
But I already gave my child access to screens! Help! How do I talk to my child about screens without getting so frustrated?
But don’t despair if your child has access to screens and you’re thinking, “Oh great! Why didn’t I just wait?” Well, screens are inevitable and come in all shapes and sizes. Chances are your child may not have a smartphone but may have access to a family tablet or old phone to use with permission. Or they are already using technology in schools.
Well, you WILL still get frustrated. But, you will arm yourself with facts by looking at resources listed above. Then you will make a conscious decision about your stance. You can also talk to your partner/spouse to ensure the adults are on the same page. When you are ready, whatever stance you take, you can bring the issue to everyone during a family meeting to talk about family media habits.
RELATED: A Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Fortnite (Child Mind Institute)
When screens replace face-to-face conversation, hinder physical activity or become your child’s addiction, it’s may be harder to place limits. Definitely don’t let that stop you, it’s a MUST. However, approach this task by involving your child. Talk to them about why they need to learn to transition to something else. It’s the same strategy we take when talking about the need for sleep, exercise and eating healthy foods.
If you think, “What happened, I lost all control! How did it get this way?” Don’t feel like all is lost if you’ve given in in the past. It’s ok. We’ve all been there. We can start again.
I created a tool, or conversation starter, to help parents have that talk with their child. Even if you have a young child just starting to delve into technology or if they are teenagers. This infographic helps center your talk around expectations. It will help your child develop their own self-monitoring habits around their screen time. However, whenever anyone sets out to learn a new skill, we still need check in to monitor. We need to give praise to highlight progress (no matter how big or small).
Choosing to start over and try again will allow families to review or make new family rules. It also forces us to reflect on our own habits as well. This is important. We send mixed messages when we tell children to head outside, but binge watch Netflix or keep scrolling through Facebook.
SUGGESTIONS FOR GETTING STARTED
- Pick a quiet time to share this with your child or during a family meeting.
- Introduce the concept of healthy screen habits.
- Ask your child(ren) for ideas on family rules about screens. For example,meals in our household are screen-free with phones and tablets in a totally separate area.
- Share the infographic by reading it together.
- Ask them if they think it will work and what help they want from you when starting.
- Consider a role play with your child to check if they understand your expectations. Give them their device and then say, “Ok, it’s the weekend, what will you do first?” and then as they talk aloud, give them feedback.
- Put the infographic in a place the child can see.
- Consider printing several of them to keep them in locations where the child will see it.
- Remember to reinforce and praise children when they show they are able to follow the steps!
I can’t wait for you to use this tool with your family. I hope that it helps the conversation go well.
Had the family talk and ready for more? Check out my family jumpstart kits below!
If you’re ready to take it to the next level after you have a great family conversation, consider making cutting down on screen time or building up healthy media habits one of YOUR family’s goals this year! If you want some extra help and motivation to stick to it, make sure you check out my FAMILY jumpstart kit: #Family Goal Getters to help your family set and achieve FAMILY goals!
You can even set up a screen time tracking system tied to allowance family jumpstart kit here.
Share your stories with me by dropping me an email, comment below or connect with me on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram). Talk soon!
DO NOT MISS RESOURCES
National Online Safety: Their mission is to make the internet safer for children. Online safety courses for whole school communities (staff, parents and students).
Common Sense Media: One stop shop for age-based media reviews for families for movies, TV shows, apps, books and gaming. I always check on here BEFORE approving any requests!