By Melissa Ford
My son and daughter, ages 23 and 22 respectively, were born before the first web page, before hotmail, smartphones, iPods, iPads, Twitter, IM, Kik, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr. . . They even attended middle school without the presence of Facebook.
Jaw-dropping isn't it?
Reflecting back, I realize that it was a good thing.
Limited access to screens made life simpler for me and my kids.
Back in the day, managing screen time simply meant hiding the TV remote and unplugging the Nintendo 64 controllers. Of course, my children's responses to my limit setting weren't always pretty: flailing of arms and legs, gnashing of teeth, accompanied by nagging, weeping and begging. But, I must admit weathering those storms was easier because screens didn't travel, giving children access to everyone and everything by merely reaching into their pocket.
Today's parents have more to contend with, more to intercept, outsmart, negotiate, prohibit and constrain. I never once tucked my sweet little one into bed and then latter found her under the covers, FaceTiming her best friend or texting into the wee hours of the morning or spending endless hours stalking her cousin's best friend's older sister at a college party on Facebook! What?
How many times do I have to tell you? Turn that thing off! GO TO SLEEP!
Would you like those threats to end forever?
Would you like to manage screens with greater ease regardless of the time of day?
It's our job as parents to set up an environment that best supports our children's mental, emotional, physical and spiritual development. Kids need time to sleep, to think, to connect with others face-to-face, to physically move, to be creative. They need time to BE.
By setting limits around screen time (including nighttime), you optimize your child's ability to learn and grow.
For effectively managing screens at night, become the keeper of all technology by following these easy steps: (1) Establish a time all technology gets checked in at night. (2) Place technology in a secure place (think your bedroom), and (3) Wind down the evening being together, enjoying your child and then . . .
Kiss your child goodnight, tucking him/her into bed sans their favorite gadget(s).
Some parents have even extended this rule to include homework time or when their children's friends come over to play or on vacation or at the dinner table or . . .
Screens are a powerful tool for learning, communicating and socializing but how and when we use them determines whether they enhance or diminish our lives.