Technology is a necessary evil in my home. More and more, it is becoming woven into our everyday lives. Banning it from my home would essentially be handicapping my children as they seek their educations and eventually enter the workforce.
So therefore it becomes my responsibility to model an appropriate relationship with technology, set limits, and make sure that it is helping and not harming my children. There are several steps I have taken over the years to do this.
Limit Screen Time
I made the decision to ban screens on school days. We break our weekly device fast with a movie as a family on Friday night. The girls are allowed one hour of screen time on Saturdays and Sundays. In my experience, this has greatly improved their behavior. I found the more exposure they had to devices, the worse their behavior got.
Cut the Cable
It is easy for the TV to be on constantly. Being exposed to the nightly news can threaten a child’s sense of security and wellbeing, especially when it is fraught with news of mass shootings, murders, and countries threatening each other with nuclear war. Anxiety in children is becoming an epidemic, and it’s no wonder why. I canceled our cable in favor of using streaming programs in which I can control content. It’s been an easy adjustment.
Device-Free Times (Even for Parents)
I have an iPhone, which has a “Do Not Disturb” feature I can set for windows of time every day. I get home at 4:15 PM and my kids go to bed around 8:00 PM. So I have set the Do Not Disturb window for 4:15 - 8:30 PM, and I put my phone in my purse. This insures that they get a parent who is present for them, undistracted, and nothing interrupts my time with them. It models for them that connecting one-on-one with a human is more important than burying your face into a phone and answering every text and email that comes in. Work can wait.
Devices are also avoided at bedtime. I read an article recently about blue light and its effect on circadian rhythms, or our sleep/wake cycles. Most articles I have read suggest that we should avoid using tablets, phones, and computers within an hour of bedtime. I’ve noticed that my kids don’t fall asleep easily after turning off their devices, so this has been a good rule for us.
I don’t think any of my changes are extreme, but in my experience they have led to happier children and stronger family relationships. My girls are still elementary-aged, but hopefully by the time they’re teenagers, I will have modeled appropriate use of technology for long enough that they will use it responsibly and in moderation.