Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Parental Limits are the Key to Screen Time

It all started with Angry Birds.

Picture this: You and your little one are waiting at the pediatrician’s office. It has been 20 minutes and you’ve run out of ways to distract your energetic toddler. The baby is crying. The toddler is across the room climbing and jumping off of the waiting room chairs. The baby is crying louder. The toddler is now playing with the trash can. Reluctantly, you hand over your smart phone. The toddler starts flinging birds at pigs and you tend to the baby. You think to yourself, problem solved. What you don’t realize is that a new challenge is just beginning.

As my kids grew so did their desire for more screen time, more games and more screens! Now those Angry Bird-loving toddlers are Minecraft-obsessed school-agers. All three are devoted gamers. Minecraft, Skylanders, Super Mario… you name it, they want it.

It’s very frustrating as a parent to listen to the constant requests for screen time and new games. My husband and I have learned that gaming rules must be set. Our kids are allowed to play two days a week, and they have to give us their iPods on their days off so they don’t sneak and play and break the rules. We’ve also set up parental restrictions on their devices so that they are unable to purchase anything without our approval.

Our kids are growing up in a technology-driven world and monitoring our children’s screen time is just one of the many challenges that parents face. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a little screen time so parents can get things done, but just like everything else, we need to be in charge. If our kids were allowed to make all the decisions they would eat cookies for every meal, never bathe, and stay up until midnight. Sure, we have treats on occasion, we might skip a bath and stay up late for a treat, but all of these things are in moderation. The same goes for screens. As parents we need to set rules and be consistent. Easier said than done, I know.

So, is your child hooked on screens, too? How do you set limits?

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