I recently posted on Instagram about how I limit the boys screen time. It was met with lots of other mummies feeling the same and commenting on their experiences. I feel a blog coming on! We are fortunate to have a Play Station 4, I pad and Kindle Fire for kids, plus my teenagers phone. I understand the importance of these devices and how times are changing with schools using I pads more and more, that I do not want to hinder the children, but I also don’t want to lose them to the virtual world.
The little one is the easy one. He is 7 and not allowed online. He can watch TV and films on his tablet at limited times and all under parental control. Sorted. Yes we have whining and tantrums when the allotted time is up, but he soon gets over it. He mainly uses the Playstation for his games ( Minecraft, Lego Worlds and Disney Infinity), but weekends only and again all times are restricted. Easy right? (She says)
The teen is a different story. He has no Playstation time until the weekend. This may seem harsh but it makes such a difference to him and his mood. He knows the evenings after school are a Playstation no go. They are for homework (he is getting so much now), after a lot of prompting, dog walking and sports. Mostly they are for him getting ready for the next school day as he is exhausted. I need his brain to switch off and I feel the Playstation makes this impossible. He is 13 years old and we are strict with the age limits so the games are appropriate, but still they are so advanced and all-consuming that it sucks the life out of him. So when his time is up at weekends, it can be war of words to get him off, but he soon sees my way, especially when the remotes are removed or the console is locked in my car.
Peer pressure is another hurdle we have. Many times his friends will text for him to join an online game or do screen shots of how far they have got. I am proud that even with the requests, he does not ask until the weekend.
His phone is put in my room at 9pm very night. You would be surprised how many texts, notifications, snap chats things he gets through the night. Without us doing this, he would not turn off. This also gives us a chance to keep an eye on what he is up to. All apps have to go through my husband’s account anyway, but as we have been on the end of bullying previously, we are vigilant.
I work with all school aged children. I often see the negative impact these devices can have on children’s well-being, self-esteem, social skills and character. Maybe this is why I am so strict? I despair when some parents say they have no choice in what the child does. That their child is playing 18 rated games throughout the night and they are 11 years old.
We are not going to get away from technology and it is getting more amazing and scary everyday. I feel the way to deal with this is balance. As long as the children work hard during the week, get fresh air, sports and activity time; I do not mind the Playstation being played at weekends. They are allowed certain times to play and they must do other things. This weekend we have had lovely walks, trips out, Lego building marathon and Star Wars ship drawing, plus their time on the PS and tablet. All in moderation.
I want to keep my children, children as long as I can and if this means they have a paddy a few times a week then so be it. We all manage screen time differently with our children and what I may do is completely different from other families, but this way works for us. I know the children are safe and protected which is my main priority.
The Only Way is Latte