*NEW* My kids are screaming for screen time, my mother is screaming her grandkids get too much screen time and I’m in the middle! How do I balance the right amount of a good thing and appease those around me who criticize my parenting in this computer age? Signed, Miss Ery and Exasperated
Dear Miss Ery: First dear, aren’t you clever with the play on words. Now down to the business at hand… exasperated you must be, indeed. So do what you know you must, and shout out loud, “Quiet!!, Everyone JUST Shut Up”.
I hope you do realize dear that I was suggesting to do this in your head, not out loud to anyone in particular, especially mother. Now that you’ve cleansed yourself of your exasperation, approach this from a clearer mind. You’re overthinking this matter. So stop it. Sometimes it’s just that simple my dear.
Your children are growing up in a different advancement of technology than you did, and every other generation before. This is good, in fact, it’s necessary. The progressive evolution of mankind is a naturally occurring reality. You want your children to be engaged, curious and savvy young people. You want them to be living in the now, not in the past of days gone yore. Today’s children have my days of yore to hear and learn about while engaging in their present everyday living. And their everyday living is an upgrade from my childhood everyday living. This doesn’t make it better or worse, my dear. It just makes it relevant to the era they were born into.
They actually get the best of not only both worlds, as the expression goes, but of the entire world’s advancements. Wow! Don’t overthink it, embrace it. Embrace it with smart boundaries and strategic moderation that you set as their ‘curfew’.
Boundaries and Moderation and Age Appropriate Honest Disclosure. When I was a wee lass growing up in the old neighborhood, it was a universally known ‘curfew’ that when the street lights went on it was time to go home. Back in my day, we played outside and in the alleyways in groups of us kids and rallied our collective imaginations to entertain ourselves. After school, it was either homework or play until dinner, then back outside until ‘curfew’ or until we got bored and came in early. There was Brownies and Girl Guides, Tap Dance Lessons, Swimming, and most importantly, the beloved and much anticipated Saturday Morning Cartoons and Sunday Night ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ Family Movies before bed. These were ‘the special occasions’ I looked forward too. As I got older, I was allowed to watch more grown up shows like TV detective series or Murder Mystery movies.
Your children have the same opportunity as I was limited to experiencing, by a search of these very shows and a click to watch. And it is you who will determine this opportunity of experience and set boundaries and curfews of how long to explore and watch.
And of course I got bored at times and wanted to do something else, and there was always ‘something else found’: reading books, board games, and crafts existed back then as they do now. And if I had a hand held android device to be my ‘something else found’, I would have done that too.
But it wasn’t for me or children of my generation, your mother included, because it wasn’t the right time in history. And just because your mother remembers that her ‘play’ used to look like mine, doesn’t mean her grandchildren’s play in the history of today is wrong or detrimental.
It is a wonderful complement to the play we did! Children have such diverse choices of play now, outdoor, indoor, and both on a device! They can travel to the other end of the world without leaving the treehouse!!!
I’m betting your mother did as I, have limits as to how much TV was watched. We both had limits as to how far from the neighborhood we were allowed to venture. In fact, I couldn’t have some of the friends I wanted to have because they were a bad influence, so said my mother! All of these limits were to protect me and keep me safe. And whatever form of protection and safety parents take on now, it may look different from our day, but it means the same.
Today’s children have the best of both worlds. Social play in their neighborhoods are where they step into from their front door. And world wide web play that they step into from modern technology. Both have boundaries. We had curfews when to go home from playing in our neighborhood and today’s children have curfews of how long they can engage on modern day devices.
But the most influence today’s parent can have on their child is Age Appropriate Honest Disclosure. Being honest to your beloved children as to why you are setting boundaries of exploration on the internet, and moderating the time engaged on computer, hand held device, gaming and all other whatevers.
This disclosure will empower your beloveds to make the right decisions for themselves in those times when you’re not looking. Basically, guilt them into doing right, subtlety of course, dear. Youngsters need simpler talks than teenagers. If you start now, by the time they’re young adults, they will be engaging in smart, sensible screen behaviors. And as they are dear humans who will trip up every now and then, you’ll be there to have their back and reboot. Yes, dearie, I know some of the lingo too.
So tell dear Mother, Miss Ery, that you appreciate her concerns, and you want your children to be well rounded and engaged, savvy people in the world they live in today, and you’ve got their best interests and welfare at hand. You introduce your children to the right amount of those things you want them to benefit from and you are actively assessing the right balance of learnings and activities with a complementary sprinkling on their technological devices.
In fact, after dear mother has read to the kids or baked cookies with them or parked the bicycles against the side of the house, have her sit with grandchildren and watch what they are doing and engage in the technology that she had to wait thirty years to enjoy.
And if mother still doesn’t want to step down from her high horse, remember dear, screaming ‘be quiet, just be quiet’ in your head always goes nicely with a cold glass of smooth white wine.