Tomorrow I am speaking to a group of moms about the dangers and joys of technology in our lives.  I’ve shared my Candy Crush addiction issues before, and I’ve shared my pledge not to text and drive.  Today I have to be honest and say, “I’ve screwed up.  Again.”

Dude.  It’s HARD to keep good boundaries with technology.  It. Is. Everywhere.  I can’t even go buy toilet paper at Wal-Mart without a screen waking up and sharing a commercial about how much softer the new blah blah blah brand is and if I wave my hand below the screen I will receive a coupon for $1.00 off.  SHHHHHH!  I’m ON THE PHONE while I’m shopping.   Sorry, is that annoying?

I’m also on the phone while I’m cooking.  I’m checking Facebook while I’m waiting for my meeting.  My phone alerts me that my troops are ready for battle while I’m IN the meeting —- well, I just let the cat out of the bag with that one.

My husband and I are trying out a unique and probably frowned upon method of hovering in a less helicopter fashion.  We both play Clash of Clans now, and so does our son.  And we have our own clan.  No, you can’t join it unless we know you in person and we have had an actual conversation with you.  See what we did there?  We are giving our son the freedom to have this game that has group messaging capabilities but we are IN the game with him.  So if something fishy is goin’ down, we’ll be the first to smell it.

Our son is 11 and he doesn’t fully understand how big and scary the world can be within these “fake” micro-worlds of online games.  But we do.  So we go there with him.  He gave out too much information in the first clan we were in and mom and dad might have gone a little ape….schmidt.  We deleted the game on all devices, we panicked, we had conversations, we fretted… and then we realized — WAIT — this isn’t teaching him anything helpful!  So we all got back in the game, but it’s different this time.

What are we to do as moms and dads to keep this whole technology thing under control?  We have smart phones, ipads, tablets, computers, laptops, netflix, dvd’s, cable TV, DVR, XBox, PlayStation, Wii, and who knows what else….   How do we find a balance? It doesn’t matter how “smart” the device is, it’s only as intelligent as the user.

Step 1: Let your kids have screen time in moderation.

I recently read an article written by a doctor who said that NO kids under the age of 12 should have any screen time.  None.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  Kill me now, just go ahead and torture me.  If I told my 11 year old son that I was taking away ALL screens for the next year until he turns 12 it would be an all out war zone in our house.  And honestly, the very next thing he would say (after the moaning, wailing, and tearing of the “sackcloth”) is — “But we use screens ALL THE TIME at school!”

You got it kid.  You sure do.

This is the world in which our kids are growing up.  This is their new norm.  It was NOT the norm for us as kids, and some (like me) still struggle to figure out how to use it wisely.  But if I don’t figure it out soon, I’m setting my son up for failure.

I’m going to give him screen time.  Period.  Some days I will totally use it as a baby sitter – which is wrong and horrible and you can leave me nasty comments if you want to — but I’m being honest.   But for the most part, screen time will be in moderation.

We tried setting up a hard and fast “one hour a day” rule.  That didn’t work out so well because if I got busy cooking dinner or on a work phone call or whatever, the hour turned into 70 minutes… and then 90… and then why are we even keeping track anymore?

Then we tried saying “you can either play on screens before dinner or after dinner – but not both.”  And that didn’t work out so well either because some days were basketball days, some days we were at the grocery store, some we didn’t even eat until 7:30 and so on.

So now, our rule is “yes, you can go play on screens until I say it’s time to turn them off.”  Doesn’t that sound silly?  Guess what?  For OUR family, this method has worked the best.  And there is no longer any danger of tearing of the sackcloth.

Start the conversation with your spouse and your kids.  What does “moderation” look like in your house?  How will you implement that?  Just note that “family time” does not consist of your entire family being on their screens in the same room at the same time.

I would love to know what is and what is NOT working at your house — be honest — judging isn’t my department so you don’t have to worry about that!

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3 thoughts on “10 Steps to becoming a cool TechNO-mom

  1. We have a game designer in our house. Finding balance (for all of us!) can be tricky. I’m pretty lax so long as we are getting time outside and together. Time to craft and create. My guys are little though- So I guess we need plans in place as they start wanting more screen time. Right now I’m inconsistent. (oops) USUALLY no tv/minecraft during the week. But sometimes a mamma of we lads just needs to take a time out and let the kids chill too. Often I’m more lax if its an educational show like Cosmos or a nature program. We have kid friendly tablets that keep them from using Youtube or anything not predetermined as ok by me. You have to have a mommy login to get to the interwebs. ;D I’m curious to see what people respond. We haven’t had too much struggle…yet. Though TV addiction can become a problem now and then.

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  2. We struggle with the same things. Although, for our family of 7 children, we HAVE to use timers and stick to it for several reasons. 1. If someone goes over time, we hear about it! “So ‘n so got more time than me. ” or other similar complaints. 2. If everyone has a separate turn we’ll never get through everyone in an afternoon. 3. If it continues for hours, the sounds of the games begin to wear on my nerves and I am not a happy mommy.

    So our newest plan is, if they play 2 or more players together, they get 30 minutes. If they play alone they get 20 minutes. There are exceptions but they also know that we reserve the right to say, “No screen time today”. Just because…. and no argument. (There is still argument, but it may mean they lose a future turn if the arguments continue.)
    And we TRY to do a lot of outside time when schedules and weather cooperate.

    That’s the plan for this week. Everything has to be flexible according to the need at the time. If I see attitudes going negative, screen time has to decrease. There is a direct connection for my kids between screen time and attitude.

    I think, each family has to do what works for their kids. For us, this is working for now. And if it stops working for any reason, we’ll readjust, like you’ve done.

    We also have a game designer and it takes time to be creative. So we have to be understanding and work with that as a separate issue.

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