Updated: Jan 17, 2019
The reality is, a majority of our generation of children are addicted to devices. Whether that reveals something I'm embarrassed about as a parent, I feel the need to be responsible enough to say it. The conversation needs to happen.
We've become so busy that we allow these devices in our home (whether good or bad for us) and sometimes can become a babysitting tool. I remember when Austin was 2, I would allow him to use my phone as a distraction while I handled a quick task. At two I caught him quickly swiping a notification away like a pro!
You see, we are setting the example for our children.
Let's stop for a moment and think about our own cellphone behavior. I can't start my breakfast until I have my phone with me to play a kick-a&^ song to start my day. Let alone leaving the house. Somehow we can't survive without our phones throughout the day. Elite Daily shared a study that revealed we check our phones every six minutes, 150 times a day!!
Work wise, many industries require constant communication. I've worked in advertising for the past 13 years. Throughout those years, the need to stay connected on/off work has progressively become mandatory. This means constantly checking work emails, before and after work hours. As a project manager, it's my job to facilitate conversations. This means lots of texting. So what happens here? My kids see how obligated I am to my phone. It would be hypocritical of me to say NO.
The truth is...I've allowed them to be addicted and in order to avoid raising mini-screen obsessed robots, I decided that I must set guidelines and rules. More importantly, be consistent about these rules.
Here are some top ways that have proven successful these past couple years.
This one is easy. Every child has homework. You do your homework (and chores), you get rewarded. You don't do it, sorry bud.
As a working parent, I don't get the privilege of walking my kids thru their homework after school. To be real, it never really was my jam. I somehow didn't have the patience and always ended frustrated. Now, our family has been blessed with my amazing niece, Raiven. She has graciously helped us with the kids after school for the past year.
Before I drop the boys to school, I give TJ (the eldest), a list of chores he MUST do before Raiven uncovers the hidden device. It's really simple. Do your homework (correctly) and ensure your brother does it as well. Homework and after school chores go hand in hand in order to earn their right to use it.
The incentive has become enough reason to get their homework done.
I'm a big believer that every child must have chores. It's the equivalent of having adult responsibilities and will prepare them for life when their parents aren't around to care for them. For me, it's a win-win. TJ helps me get some house chores done before I get home from a long day at work, and he in return gets to play on his device.
Now let's be clear, these aren't laborious brick lifting type chores. I'm talking simple household chores that every human being does to keep their homes afloat.
What kind of chores, you ask?
1️⃣Clear the dish rack of dishes.
2️⃣Sweep and vacuum the living room floor.
3️⃣Make sure their pets have food and water.
4️⃣Put away their basket of laundry. (Whether this is done correctly, sure. I've learned you have to seriously not be a perfectionist or it will eat at your mom-soul.
5️⃣Water the plants 🌱
6️⃣Clean the bathroom, mop the floor.
You'll be amazed how willing and able they are. This technique has really worked and maybe it's because TJ is becoming a little more mature every year. At nine years old, he knows it's an incentive and has been super happy to oblige to my asks. Austin (6) requires a little more motivation, but he gets it and is down to take on the responsibility.
Anyone who knows me personally is hyper aware of my love of arts and crafts. I'm that aunt who brings messy paint, paper and brushes to a gathering, just to let the kids shine their creative side. Naturally, I use this as an earning badge for tech time.
If you take time creating some cool, fun art - you in return get to spend time on your iPad. This truly works, and they're tapping into their creative side.
This one is my favorite ❤️. I'm an uber-fan of being outdoors. Parks, trees, the ocean, rolling hills. Totally my thing. The boys have no choice but to 💕 it as well. It used to be REALLY easy to convince them to come with and guarantee it's going to be a blast. Now, I get a lot of "I don't want to gooooooooooo Mommmmmmm."
This is incredibly disheartening when the outdoors is what fills your happiness bucket and you have NO choice but to get super creative at convincing them to want to come.
Now, when I pull the "look, if you want to play on your iPad, let's do this!!!" card, it totally works! The little one will certainly pull the whiney card for a bit, but then ends up enjoying it way more than he hated the idea. This definitely becomes a bonus at the end of the day.
On the weekend (used this one today 😃), whenever we finally have time to stay home and enjoy our home, I really step up their earning rights. TJ helped me plant a basil plant and de-weed my mini garden. This guy would do ANYTHING to get in some tech time.
TAKE IT AWAY.
If you're experiencing behavioral issues or just not following thru with any of the above ideas.....simply confiscate the device. You'll get some sass and moping, but you know what, they'll eventually forget and move on. Guess what kids...everything in life must be earned.
We can do it!
I'm sure there are a million different ways to control the use of tech time in your home. One friend shares with me that she limits iPad use to weekends only.
When I have time to really sit down with them, I use it as an educational opportunity to have them research a new country and write facts about the location. Definitely one of my faves!
Please comment or send me a message with some of your ideas. Totally open to new techniques.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let's, together, help our children become responsible tech-users!!!
Cheers to a fresh week, and good luck implementing new rules!!!
Note: This blog was inspired by observations I've made at my sons' school, within friends and family members. If you don't fall under this group of folks, please don't be offended. These are simply my opinions/suggestions as a fellow-mom. ✌🏽