For years we’ve heard the guideline that kids should have no more than two hours of screen time per day. And frankly, to a parent that finds it challenging to carve out 15 minutes to take a shower, that sounds like a ton of time.
To a kid, two hours is one group chat.
Early on, I found the two-hour rule plenty easy to enforce. But that was just TV. As the kids grew, so did their interest in computer games. Handheld devices. Phones. They will go to great lengths to plug in to the mothership, and unless you want to stand over your children 24 hours a day, or confiscate (and lug around) all electronic devices wherever you go, it’s a pain to enforce.
We make the kids “check in” their devices at night. Teens seem to text all night long and my daughter, who was using her phone as a morning alarm, would wake up just long enough to reply and perpetuate the conversation. A few mornings with a sleep-deprived teen put a stop to that.
And then there’s what they’re texting in the first place. We used to read all text messages but Snapchat pretty much put an end to our monitoring ability. While my kids have some common sense, I learned from my years in management that you can never be too obvious (or repetitive) when stating your expectations. In particular, I have talked rather explicitly with my kids about not taking or transmitting pictures of any body part whatsoever. Since this is a G-rated blog, I’ll spare you the language I used.
And there’s still that darned TV. The biggest challenge now is making sure they watch age-appropriate programming. (I recently heard one of my boys, as a joke, tell his brother, “Let’s watch a G-rated movie while eating healthy snacks.”) When discovered, the kids just plead ignorance: “I thought it was PG-13!” Yeah, right.
In a fit of rebellion, a rage against the machine if you will, my husband recently password-protected the TVs so the kids have to ask permission to use them. Not only did they find a workaround in about 12 hours (the password didn’t keep them out of Netflix) but he fat-fingered the password on the TV that I occasionally watch so it is now a large, faceless piece of artwork and not a functioning device. Oh, the irony.
If you missed the previous post, read: