In recent years, electronics just can’t be avoided. Try as I might, they are everywhere. Whether it’s the TV, tablet, phone, or gaming system, they are in every home and every building. Even the library. My kids used to be fine with no electronics. My youngest son didn’t even watch his first TV show until he was two years old (and that’s only because I had a newborn and needed some peace). Fast forward a few years and they love everything to do with technology and electronics.
A couple of weeks ago I began to really take notice of certain behaviors. Some of them were subtle and some were downright nasty. My oldest son (who is 8) started playing the Wii first thing in the morning before I got out of bed. When I told him to turn it off, there was a struggle. My other two sons were playing on their tablets. I had to literally yank them from their hands. That’s when I knew something needed to be done.
I sat down and prayed about it. I spoke with my husband about the negative effects and what we should do to gain control of the situation. After a few days of thinking about what to do and seeking God’s word, we came up with a plan. It is a plan that still allows for electronic use but very limited and after certain tasks are performed each day. Below I will share what we have done to change the way our home uses electronics and how it has changed my children’s attitudes about it.
Guidelines for electronic use:
- Tablets may be played in the morning before mommy gets out of bed (I sleep later because of insomnia from an illness). No Wii, only tablets. They must be put away and turned off when mommy gets up.
- TV may be watched (we don’t have cable so only PBS works) during breakfast during the week. TV must be turned off right after breakfast. It can be turned back on for 30 minutes in the afternoon after duties are completed for the day. No TV after dinner.
- Tablets may be played in the afternoon for 30 minutes after duties are completed. No tablets after dinner.
- The Wii may be played in place of tablet for 30 minutes in the afternoon after duties are completed. No Wii after dinner. There is a maximum of 30 minutes of Wii time per day. No more.
Basically, my boys can play with electronics in small amounts of time throughout the day but they have duties that must be accomplished first. I set timers for the timed portions of their electronics use and when it goes off, they must put away what they are playing with or lose their privileges for the next day.
Duties to be completed daily for electronic use:
- Bible and prayer time. This may be done as a family or during our homeschool time. I do ask them to have 10 minutes of personal prayer time in the afternoons before electronics can be used.
- School work completed with no grumbling or attitude issues.
- Chores/household duties completed. Mommy assigns a zone for each child. They must complete the task with a good attitude and it must be well done.
- Good behavior throughout the day. No complaining or yelling at others. No ugly words. Must be kind to one another.
- Be quiet and respectful in the mornings (I do not sleep well so this is important).
- Quiet reading for 15 minutes each day.
I don’t think I ask too much of them. Since starting this, it has changed my life. My boys are behaving better and ask to do chores and help around the house. They go outside and play more and don’t complain when I tell them to turn off a certain device. It has cut back on our TV time a lot. I was ill for a very long time and then had major surgery. I got lazy about telling them to turn the TV off because I wasn’t feeling well and it helped to keep them occupied and quiet. Now that I am on the mend, I put my foot down and they know what is expected in order to earn their electronics time.
It’s okay for my kids to be bored. It has given them many opportunities to explore other things. They have been reading more books than ever (I had to go buy more last weekend) and they draw and color constantly. They go outside and play Star Wars using sticks as Lightsabers and jump on the trampoline. They aren’t just hypnotized by the TV and video games. I believe electronics can be used in moderation and still be good. I hope this helps with your family as it has with mine.