It’s been almost a month since we cracked down on screen time at our place. We’ve settled into a pattern of no screens for anything but homework Monday to Thursday and no screens on Sundays every other week – movies on Sundays are okay.
Hardcore, I know, but … it’s working. By working, I mean:
- My kids are hanging out more together.
- They are hanging out more with us.
- They are less cranky all the time.
- They have reclaimed old hobbies and started new ones.
- They are more social.
- They are helping out more around the house.
- They value their time on screens more – quality, not quantity.
Life beyond screen
It was not easy to start with. My son, especially, pushed back hard. He was angry, frustrated, hating us. He “left home” three times. He still tries to push the rules, but with less and less desperation as the weeks go by. He knows there’s life beyond gaming now. He’s started writing a comic book series, which is pulling his attention.
But for those interested in ditching the screens now, here are my top takeaways from further clamping down on screens when my kids are 15, 13 and 11:
1. Hold the door – Know exactly why you’re making the change and hold steady. The kids will push and push and push, but hold that door!
2. Talk to them about WHY – I’ve talked it over (three times, at length, with my son) about why we think it’s important to give them time off screens. I came prepared with facts and figures and hopes and dreams. I think Max spent the first week of screen time researching why screens are great for kids because he also came prepared. We argued for hours, and while he would never concede, he did admit to a better understanding of why his parents hate him so much they would take away his lifeline.
MORE Entertainment and Technology
3. Take baby steps – Start with saying no screens on days when they have a pretty full schedule anyway.
4. Let them check in with friends – now and then, give them a half hour after dinner to message friends and check in. Knowing they have this time does make a difference; otherwise, they feel unduly cut off and punished.
5. When it’s screen time, it’s screen time – They can spend it how they like best.
6. Encourage new pursuits with great enthusiasm – We even dusted off my old sewing machine for Arabella.
If you’re trying to change patterns at your place too, Godspeed. It ain’t easy, but I think it’s incredibly important.