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Screen time and common sense
The line between digital overdose and digital exclusion is not that thin. In the digital world, science and entertainment intertwine a lot. Therefore, the conscious use of technology will give us, and our children, an advantage in life in the future. Unfortunately, this is often associated with setting rules that both children and parents must follow.
Taking the control
Knowing all that terrifying information about damaging influence on your child, you might consider how to cut screen-time but not be the bad guy at home! There are some ways how to do it.
You should prepare a good strategy. Why? Because by the way you set boundaries for video games, you teach your child many other skills. You give an example how to resolve problems, how to take control on drives in life, how to resist temptations, on what you can rely on what not, how to choose what is good for you what is not, how to cope with failures and how to be celebrating a success. Quite a lot of life knowledge isn’t it?!
It’s good to be aware that to achieve all these goals you must be consistent and self-confident. Not necessarily rough or abrupt but stay stable in a warming way.
How to say “Enough”?
The first step is to invite a husband/wife/partner to help with your project and ask for being supportive during the providing time. It will be much more useful than you can imagine at the beginning!
Either, both of you or separately, you should focus on the fundamental question “What do you want to achieve? “Less screen-time” is not an answer. It’s too general. Let’s turn it into for example “40 minutes a day”. And is every day the same? For sure weekends or days before the exams are pretty different, it could influence screen-time.
It is extremely important to point out if the child has less screen time, what he or she is going to lose? You have to consider every child separately. There can be important matters like maybe being popular at school, maybe dreams of being on a higher level, perhaps an idea for all afternoon. You should be prepared for an honest serious talk with the child about it because he or she might need some help with it.
Don’t forbid, suggest alternative activities
If you realize what your child is going to lose, try to think about what he or she might get in place of the screen-time. It’s worth to prepare a few propositions for each on them – some sports, some art, some meeting with friends and doing stuff together, maybe mother-daughter or father-son afternoon once a week, you would perhaps like to involve to some hobby which you could share with your child or simply choose Lego instead of Minecraft or Sims. If you want to propose something from you must be sure that you will find time and energy for that, you can’t give up with that.
Remember to leave some spaces for ideas for your child. Getting bored is a pretty good job – remember that your child might be frightened about being bored. Show how boring it is the first step to be creative. Don’t try to find for him or her any solution for the empty afternoon. Instead of that be with your child saying “I understand that it is annoying not knowing what to do” “Wait a moment, maybe something will come to your mind” Let her or him do it on their own. If you see that your child can’t cope with the emptiness without the video games – what might be more difficult at the beginning – you can sit with him or her in some calm moment and make a list of tips, what could be done in that free time. You have to provide and gather in one place all the needed tools to do things from the list.
Let’s take a look at your, and whole family, calendar – how all these changes might influence family life. Maybe you won’t be able to rest after in the evenings as you like because some tennis with your son will occur instead of that? What about seasons – it is easy to play football every afternoon but when winter is coming it is going to be more tricky to figure out something. Try to imagine how it might look like the week and whole season
It is worth to sit with your husband or wife or partner and try to imagine the worst case, what you afraid of. Do not worry, talking about it. It doesn’t mean that it will happen, but it will give you a chance to figure out solutions.
The big question: who is going to announce every time that “The time is ending!”? The most difficult solution is to rely on ourselves because first, you take all responsibility for keeping time you and secondly you direct all the child’s anger into yourself. If you use any device like an alarm clock or software program to cut down the computer is much easier to be understanding to child’s emotions and focus on that instead of never-ending explanations.
Maybe it would be a good lesson for your children if they could extend their daily screen-time by making something difficult additionally of their daily duties. Maybe 30 more maths tasks or make special tidy on the shoe shelf could give them an extra 15 minutes on video games? But remember first the task and after a reward, don’t let on promises.
When you are full of all this information and knowledge and being supportive by other adults and by the calendar it is the time for the final talk. It is crucial to explain what are your concerns and worries and what is your proposal and how to deal with it together. Show them a new schedule in a new family calendar.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, who is deeply involved in protecting children from damaging screen time influence, in the article for the New York Post, revealed how he did it in his family. Described that talk that way: “Have honest discussions with your child about why you are limiting their screen access. Eat dinner with your children without any electronic devices at the table — just as Steve Jobs used to have tech-free dinners with his kids. Don’t fall victim to “Distracted Parent Syndrome” — as we know from Social Learning Theory, “Monkey sees, monkey do.” When I speak to my 9-year-old twin boys, I have honest conversations with them about why we don’t want them having tablets or playing video games. I explain to them that some kids like playing with their devices so much, they have a hard time stopping or controlling how much they play. I’ve helped them to understand that if they get caught up with screens and Minecraft like some of their friends have, other parts of their lives may suffer: They may not want to play baseball as much; not read books as often; be less interested in science and nature projects; become more disconnected from their real-world friends. Amazingly, they don’t need much convincing as they’ve seen first-hand the changes that some of their little friends have undergone as a result of their excessive screen time.”
Ask everyone about opinions, ideas, needs, and worries. Listen to everyone and take into consideration their point of view. Remember that if children feel that they influence the final decision, it is easier to be more involved and responsible.
New York Post “It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies” by Dr Nicholas Kardaras, August 27, 2016 / https://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/
*Article by Magdalena Tchórzewska – a psychologist and certified psychotherapist for years associated with the Institute of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. She gained over 20 years of experience working with adults and their families supporting their development both in the professional field and in private life. He develops his professional experience and interests intensively by working with specialists from Europe, especially intensively working with psychotherapists from France and England. Recently, he explores his interest in the possibilities of using social media to support and treat psychotherapy.