Overall, I feel like my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to parenting. We do have one BIG difference and it is a little tough to find common ground. Call me “old-school” but I don’t want our children playing on electronics. Whether it be a phone, a tablet or a gaming system, I would prefer to shield them from it as long as possible. I realize saying I NEVER want my child to use electronics is not realistic and I am ok with use in moderation. At most, my child has approximately 30 minutes of screen time each day. I would rather my child be playing, reading or doing something productive. My husband, on the other hand, sees no problem in screen-time, especially in the evenings when we are all winding down. He says technology is everywhere and they need to be comfortable using it. How do you handle this at your house? Is it a problem?
I know that they will need to have more than basic knowledge of computers/tablets but I have noticed that they do not seem to have any problem figuring things out when we do let them play with gadgets. What bothers me is when they go over to a grandparents house and all they want to do (and argue over) is using a tablet or phone.
At home we try to limit their time on a tablet and make them take turns but it can be easy to let time slip by and realize they have been using a device longer than we want, which is usually in the 30 minute range. It is a constant struggle to keep screen time to minimum because I really don’t want my kids faces always buried in a screen while the rest of the world is going by.
Before we get to deep there is something you need to know. I’m a gamer. I don’t mean a guy who occasionally picks up a controller and plays a little Madden type gamer. I mean a full on nerd, I build my own custom computers, gamer. I would guess I play video games 20+ hours a week. Now that you have full disclosure, you can probably see why its hard for me to tell my kids that they have small amounts of screen time.
The rule at our house is simple, if all of your chores, homework and activities are done then screen time is OK. The only limit we have that is strictly enforced, is bedtime (8:30 for our 8 year old and 7:30 for our 2 year old) and they are not allowed a TV in their room. I would guess our kids probably use screens 8-10 hours a week, with the majority of that being on the weekends.
I think there are many positive benefits to screen time. Being connected and comfortable with electronic devices in any capacity is more important now than it was 10 years ago and that is only going to grow more important as we move into the future. My toddler loves apps such as Monkey Lunch Box that are as educational as they are interactive. My 8 year old loves to play Wii and make music videos with her friends. In both cases my kids are learning, socializing and being creative.
Most of the issues we have with screens arise from content more than over use. Our oldest is very big into dance and she loves Music.ly, an app that lets you create and share your own music videos. The problem is that the app has very few parental controls. My wife in I lean more toward holding their hands rather than holding them back and we have had several conversations on what is appropriate to post/view and that all friend requests have be approved by us before accepted. Another issue is YouTube content, even on KidsTube we have found content that we consider inappropriate. Our rule there is that all new content has to be approved by us before you can watch it.
The line that I struggle to walk most is between keeping them protected and protecting their innocence. My kids aren’t searching out bad content, most of the time they don’t even know it when they see it. So my problem is this, on one hand its my job to equip them to live in the real world and that includes pointing out the bad as well as the good. On the other hand, pointing out the bad to them seems like stealing a little bit of their childhood, forcing them to see things as an adult. Its hard to watch that innocence fade.
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