Setting screen time rules isn’t simple, but Anya Kamenetz’ new book, “The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life,” aims to help parents moderate technology in their children’s lives.
Move No. 1: “Here are some scary things that can happen with too much screen time — obesity sleep issues…behavioral issues, issues around the kid’s relationship to the media that they’re using … If you’re seeing any of that, then whatever you’re doing, you should do less,” she said.
Move No. 2: “You do need a system for what the rules are going to be that is clear and communicated to your kid. And, you can do it based on time, but you can also do it based on occasion, and/or priority. … Cut back if you need to cut back, make a system, and then, think about shifting toward the positive. What is it that our kids love about the time they’re spending online. How can you build on that? How can you stretch it toward other interesting uses? So that’s the enjoy part. I think it’s fairly simple. It’s a formula for making decisions. It’s a rubric. It’s not a rule,” Kamenetz added.
The ability of schools, even the most visionary, to match the learning with the digital provided outside the school walls, is impossible. Schools as public institutions controlled by government, bureaucrats, resourcing, working conditions, legislation, law, accountability requirements, inflexible organizational structures and history can never respond to the accelerating digital evolution and transformation in the same way as the highly agile digitally connected families of the world. Even if governments wanted its schools to change, or indeed to collaborate with the families.
Many people have unhealthy habits and dynamics in their life. Some are rooted in physical addiction. Others are habitual or psychological crutches. But across that spectrum, most people are aware of when something that they’re doing isn’t healthy. They may not be able to stop. Or they may not want to stop. Untangling that is part of the challenge. When you feel as though your child has an unhealthy relationship with technology (or anything else in their life), you need to start by asking if they see this the same way you do. When parents feel as though what their child is doing is unhealthy for them, but the child does not, the intervention has to be quite different than when the child is also concerned about the issue.
Parents don’t like to see that they’re part of the problem or that their efforts to protect and help their children might backfire.
In response, she suggests two things for parents to do:
- Verbalize what you’re doing with your phone’
Create a household contract
After reading this, I tried verbalising my actions and it soon becomes apparent when maybe the phone could go away.
In the end, it is up to you whether you believe that risks exist on the internet and whether they affect you. Personally, I hope that you will take a moment to understand how the internet works, and the risks involved for you and your children. I also hope that you will help your children to understand internet safety so that they are better prepared when you’re not around. I can’t tell you what to think and what to decide. I hope that you make an informed decision, a decision that helps your children lead safer lives.