Unavoidably, screen time is a challenge to modern day childhood, considering the multitude of available screen choices. I-pads, tablets, smart phones, TVs etc. not to talk of the games, apps, social media at the fingertips of our children. This being said, it will be ignorant not to admit and acknowledge the advantages of technology. Educational apps, websites like Khan academy, brain racking and teaser games to mention but a few. Technology has its good, its bad and its ugly side in the development of our children.
Unlike the 70s and 80s when I was growing up, screen time was not an issue at all for my parents considering the fact that I went to boarding school from the age of 6 years till I left high school and whenever I was home for holidays, TV will only come on at 4:00pm (NTA- Nigerian Television Authority). Then daddy has to watch the 7:00pm news and 9:00pm news. The only cartoon available then were voltron, tom and jerry, mighty mouse (if you have Betamax video) and few other more. Indeed, times have changed.
So where do we draw the line? How do we manage its use? How do we control the amount of time our children have access to electronics? How do we manage what they have access to? These are questions that every parent should take time to think through because proper or improper management may make or mar the development of one’s child.
For TW friends that know me from my other posts (slot in some other posts parental), I must have told you friends that from an early age, I hang around older people whose children are older than mine and are excelling spiritually, academics and character wise. I have been able to learn quite a number of things from them plus I ask a lot of questions on how they got their children to be the way they were. I also read a lot ? Please don’t blame a sister. When you want something desperately, you go in search of knowledge and wisdom, right? ? That’s what my bible says…..
Here is My Screen Time Management Recipe
Have “Our Home Screen Rules” or Boundaries- Like everything in life, screen time should have rules guiding them. It is imperative for a parent whose goal is to help his/her child succeed in life to have screen rules. Please permit me to say this “It is non-negotiable”. Establish rules based on your family dynamics and your child’s age and maturity. More importantly, adhere to the rules. The mistake some parents make is to tell their children not to watch TV or use their phones indiscriminately and then they turn it on or stay on their phone for 2 hours nonstop conversing with a friend. This is wrong. Remember, children are innocent learners. They learn from your actions more than what you verbally tell them. A general rule for my older children who are “tweens” is that TV remote should not be the first thing you go for when you wake up on weekends, holidays. Personally, I just can’t imagine a 13year-old wake up and the first thing on his/herr mind is “teen titans”. Get a book and read and If you don’t have anything else to do, sweetheart, take a broom and start cleaning the house. ?
No screen time during the week except for homework- Yes my “sista/broda”. It is so much easier to get their attention to focus on school work this way. I have a friend who once told me I was being too strict on my then 6-year-old daughter because I wouldn’t allow her to watch TV during the week. I told her I was acting from an informed perspective. Many years ago, I had the opportunity of staying with one of my aunts for about 4-months stretch. She has 3 children just like me. During my stay, I got a firsthand experience on screen management in a developed country. TV was absolutely not allowed during the week. The children new the rule and they adhered to it. On Fridays, even when she wasn’t home, immediately after school, the children will turn on the TV and watch. I practice the same thing now and it works.
Make Screen time a Privilege- Make them understand (by telling them), it’s a privilege not a necessity. This will remove the importance this generation places on screen. Food is necessity, shelter is necessity, christian salvation is necessity etc. But screen time is an add-on. Please do not misconstrue my understanding here. Every child should get play time (controlled too but they should get). Notice I wrote “play time” not screen time (screen time here refers to games, cartoons, etc.). Play time like go out and ride your bicycle, play board games with your sibling/friend, fly kites outside, play ball outside and a host of other outdoor games/sports. All the listed above games have their place in the cognitive development of a child (a lot of apps also have some cognitive development too).
Screen Time Should Be After Academics, House Chores etc.
This particular one has really helped me in managing screen time with my 7-year-old. “No TV until you finish your homework” and you will see my daughter quickly finish her homework, makes sure she writes on the line (I tell her if you don’t write on lines, your words will fly away?) and neatly too. Define what has to be done before TV/any screen can come on. Trust me, this looks a little challenging but once you start it it is easier to practice.
Lastly, Be Consistent- Whatever you do, please be consistent. Children are very smart. If you falter, they will see it and capitalize on it. I have experienced it and I still do.
As usual, I wish you all the best. May God bless our homes and our children.
Please, please and please don’t leave without dropping me a comment below. One of the reasons I created this platform is to rub minds with like minds. I look forward to reading from you.
P.S. All my children are below 14 years so please kindly understand that I am speaking from this perspective. If your child is 18 years, unfortunately, that’s a bit too late. These are adults.
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