Monday, February 6, 2017

Get Your Kids to Turn Off Their Screens

Like most families, we were starting to notice our kids turning more and more towards their phones, Kindles, computer, video games and streaming TV.  On one hand you want your kids to be tech savvy, on the other hand you want them to enjoy the things you did as a kid. They only get to be a kid once and need to explore, create, and use their imagination.  I didn't want their only childhood memories to be behind the screen.

When they were little we set 20 min. time limits on the computer, then they had to switch with their sister.  One movie a day before bed and one hour on the wii.  Of course this is after all their chores.  But as they've gotten older, there is so much more technology now fighting for their attention.

We made the basic rule that no tech could be used before chores were done.  We implemented a Tech-Free Tuesday.  The kids weren't even allowed to watch TV, play video games or computers on Tuesdays.  This worked great for a while.

We first bought our kids cell phones, because we needed to be able to get a hold of them after school.  With our crazy carpool situation it was a must.  We opted for a cheap plan where if you bought the phone you got unlimited calling and text for $10 a month with wifi data only.  We thought well we can keep tabs on the data since they can only use it if they have wifi.  Only problem is you can get free wifi now almost anywhere.

We gave them the NO SEXTING (sex texting) lecture. We explained what kind of legal charges they might face if they got caught.  We explained how once those kind of pictures are out there, they an never be taken back.  This is the kind of things that follow you when interviewing for a job or even one day your future kids might see them.  Respect yourself and your boyfriend.  If your boyfriend really cared about you he wouldn't jeopardize you like that.

We first set rules that they weren't allowed to text after 10:00 pm.  Because, nothing good happens on a text after 10:00pm, and all their friends have our home phone number. If they really need to talk to you, they an call our home phone (we pay $5 a month for our home line, after $100 purchase on Ooma). Well, just because you set the rules, other kids are still going to text your kids.

We decided to take it a step further and have a charging station.  Everyone must turn in their cellphones and electronic devices by 8:00pm.  The charging station is in my bedroom, where only my husband and myself have access to them.  We wanted them to have some down time away from the phone and kindle before bed.  With the exception of the laptop if they are doing homework.  If they are out after 8:00pm, their cell phone must be turned in when they walk through the door.

Well, the more tech our kids gained the more time they spent on them.  So, we decided to add Tech-Free Thursday to our Tech-Free Tuesday.  At first our kids complained about how bored they were.  It's important for your kids to get bored.  They learn so many wonderful things from being bored.  Are you going to be there and organize their entire life's activities? No.  They need to learn to entertain themselves and creativity immerges.  It helps them not to expect life to always be entertaining.

As technology changes and our kids change, we have to change our rules and lives to coincide with these changes.  I hope our family's technology experiences help you decide on how to handle technology in your home.

We'd love to hear what works for your kids.

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