When we say our kids are spending too much time in front of a screen, or with technology and we make a rash decision to put a stop to it – so we pull in the rules really tight. Only x number of minutes, per day, or maybe only on weekends. Whatever we think is suitable. But that is only half the job done… what are the kids going to do now?
We actually need to back up a bit because the first thing we need to do is accept personal responsibility for your kids spending too much time in front of a screen. Us, the parents, have allowed this to happen. I know in our house we have a 30min a day, 1 hour on weekends, for recreational screen time. If they want more they need to ask. They do ask, and I say yes, in my distraction and then I wonder why that is all they are doing! So first up, if my child is still young enough for me to be setting the guidelines then I need to make sure I make decisions based on those guidelines.
Secondly, I have to help my kids find something else to do. It is no good just sending them off… chances are they have become so dependent on technology that they don’t know what else to do.
This comes back to the discussion on what to do when your kids are bored. I have never given my kids jobs when they are at a loose end. That only puts a bandaid, or a threat, on what is really a deficiency in a life skill. Our children need to be able to make choices with how to spend their time. They need to have projects, or goals that they can work towards. By threatening chores, we are telling our kids just do something – anything – anything that will get me out of a job.