Technology can take over our lives. I’m right there with the rest of the world, checking my phone or computer constantly. Trying to find a life-balance with our technology can be difficult. Trying to monitor that balance for our kids can be even more difficult.
Make the trips around town a No Electronics Time.
Keep books, crayons, pencils, paper, coloring books in the back seat for the kids. If they can’t play their games or watch a DVD, they’ll start looking at what they can do in the car. I know books tend to get stepped on or ruined in the car. I would find old, used, cheap books to keep in the car. You can find them at garage sales, used book stores, Amazon $.01 books, Goodwill, consignment stores, etc…..
Limit car DVD players to long trips.
Let the kids use them when you will be traveling for more than an hour in the car. This will make it a special time for them. I had a portable DVD player that I only put in the car when we were traveling. The trip to my parent’s house was an eight- hour trip, so I would let them watch as many videos as they wanted. Generally, they would get tired of watching them and start coloring or reading books after a while. It made the trip much more enjoyable for all of us. The videos were like a treat to watch on the way to Grandma’s house. Quite often, I just let them play the audio out loud instead of with head phones. That way I could listen to the movie they were watching. It’s become a joke around our house about how many movies I have listened to and never actually seen.
I know this can be a touchy subject with parents. At school, we have kids as young as Kindergarten with phones. My girls didn’t have phones until they started Junior High. That was the age that they started going on school and church activities without me being there all the time. I learned my lesson after my oldest went on her first tennis tournament in 7th grade. I had to work and couldn’t go, so the note said they would be back at the school around 10:00 that night. Being the dutiful mom, I was sitting there at 9:30 waiting and waiting and waiting. They finally showed up around midnight. I was worried, tired, and upset that she hadn’t contacted me to let me know they were running late. She said the kids wouldn’t let her use their phones and she didn’t ask the coach. You can bet I was getting her a phone the next day. Yes, it was just a flip phone but she could at least call me so I would know what was going on. Our new rule about trips was/is that she had to call me when they headed towards home, so I could estimate what time she would need to be picked up. I also told her if any kid wants to use her phone to call their parents, I expect her to let them. You have to determine what age your kids NEED a phone. A basic consideration is the age that they are going places without you or a close friend/relative and they will need to contact you. Also, consider what they need on the phone. Do you want them to just make calls and/or text messaging? Do you want to limit what numbers they can contact? What apps can they have? Will they have full access to the internet? You can limit all of these things, so really think about what they need access to and why they need it.
Computer/Game time at home
It seems most parents struggle with monitoring their kids use of internet and game time at home. Now it’s even more difficult when so much of their school work involves the computer. Keeping the electronics out of their bedrooms, can help a lot. Even phones can be put on chargers in the living room overnight. You should be able to walk by and see what they are doing on the computer/tablet/phone at any time. Homework on the computer is OK, but playing games/social media during homework time should not be. Whether your child is 3 or 13, playing on devices should be limited to certain times. Decide what those times are for your family and stick to them. It might be 30 minutes a night or just on weekends. It’s definitely easier to set these boundaries when they are young and they will continue to abide by those expectations as they get older.
Visit my Pinterest Electronics Board for more ideas.
My Story –
At one point in our life, we had very little technology at home. We didn’t have a TV and at first we thought it was a horrible thing, but we adjusted to doing other activities. My girls were elementary ages at the time. My youngest loved board games so we had an ongoing Monopoly game on our coffee table for months. On nice days, playing outside after we got home became the norm. If the weather was bad, all the small plastic animals, blocks for pens, and cars/trucks came out. They could play with them for hours. The girls didn’t have computers or electronic games. We just didn’t want to spend any extra money on expensive games or players for the kids. We had one computer in the house with cheap internet that was very slow. My best memories of the girls were walking into their rooms to see why they were so quiet and finding them deep into play with their Barbies, animals, or with books spread all around them while reading. I think they probably became the closest to each other during this time. They relied on each other to have someone to play with. We went 3 years without a TV and very little technology in the house. After we got a TV, it wasn’t nearly so important to spend a lot of time watching it. We had all come up with other things to do instead of sitting on the couch in front of the TV.