I will own it. I'm OK with being extreme in this case, because really, I don't see a downside to being extreme.
I can't stand to see my kids playing video games.
I hate it.
I'm not a big fan of them watching TV either.
I don't hate it, but I don't like it.
Because of this, my kids' screen time is severely limited.
As in, the little kids don't see a screen on school days. On each non-school day, they each get 30 minutes. That's it.
The big kids don't get to touch their PS4 Monday-Thursday, and they only watch TV with us after the little kids go to bed. Between homework and sports, it doesn't happen every day, and it's never for more than an hour. On Friday-Sunday, they each get to play approximately 30 minutes per day. If we're home.
The big kids do have iPods, but they only get to charge them on Sundays. When the charge runs out, they are done for the week. (The iPods are so old, they don't even hold 2 hours of charge.) With their iPods they can use Instagram and play Clash of Clans or whatever game they are currently playing.
Even though we're the ones who bought them, and we bought them 5 years ago, I still cringe every time I see them playing.
Nothing good comes from video games. The time spent on them can be better used exploring in the yard, coloring, bouncing a ball, watching a caterpillar crawl across the porch, playing a board game, dancing to the music in their own heads, reading, jumping in puddles, painting, building something with Legos, and a million other things. Things that improve motor skills, teach patience, build self-esteem, teach math concepts, encourage curiosity, and perfect social skills.
I know parents who say that playing a video game taught their 3 year olds their ABCs or watching Dora taught their kids to speak some Spanish.
I say, "Big deal!" A 3 year old may learn to identify letters from playing a video game, but it makes absolutely no difference to that child's future reading or learning skills. He would learn them anyway at an appropriate time. (From a human person, in context, I would like to add.) But he will not be able to get back the time he could have been riding a bike or creating with Play-doh. Activities that will actually help a child's brain prepare for learning in school.
You can probably guess that I don't let the kids have electronics at restaurants or waiting rooms or anywhere else in public. They need to learn how to interact with strangers, including thanking a waitress when she refills their drinks. While in a waiting room, if their noses were buried in a video game, they wouldn't see the elderly woman who doesn't have a seat, which leads to them not getting up to offer their seats. We can't have that.
"But what about when you or a child is sick?" you ask.
Yeah, the TV goes on immediately. As far as I'm concerned, screens are a tool. There needs to be a purpose for using them. If the TV is on as background noise all the time, it won't be very helpful to me when I am sick and need that TV to draw their attention and keep them from destroying the house and themselves while I suffer on the couch. Luckily, it's a rare day that I get sick.
You can also probably guess that my kids will not be getting iPhones from us. Ever. But that's a post all unto itself.
I wrote 5 different versions of this post. I'm aware that there aren't many tips in it, as my theme was supposed to be. I tried. It just wasn't working. I decided that with this post, I was just going to put my thoughts out here and give people something to think about. If you are a person who would like to cut their kids' screen time down and don't know exactly how, I'll be happy to chat with you. Send me an email or a message on FB or comment here.
So, what are your thoughts on electronics? How much do you let your kids use them?
Have a lovely day!
*A big word I hope I used properly. It's a hard one to pronounce, so I never use it. But...it's E day.