Give Up Your Aul Screens: What you advise us to do
Readers’ suggestions on how families can limit screen time, in our final column
‘Turn them off – simple’: one reader’s suggestion for limiting screen time
I’m an educational consultant, teacher and parent of adult children. This is my best advice regarding technology; do not limit screen time or use it as a currency. This only makes it more valuable.
Instead, focus on the rest of your child’s day. Make it important (perhaps even compulsory) to prioritise the following activities. NB: it is critical to include your child in deciding how these activities are planned – for example, you might stipulate 30 minutes on physical activity, but they get to choose what the exercise actually is.
I suggest you prioritise the following: homework; chores; time in nature; time to be creative; time to be with friends (face to face); time to be with family; time to be alone; time to be physically active; time for hygiene; time for mindfulness; plus whatever else your family prioritises. When your child’s day is filled with all these great activities, let them spend the “leftover” time on their screen.
Note the term “leftover” – it de-values the screen stuff. Balancing priorities this way establishes healthy boundaries and sets your child up for a lifetime of a positive and beneficial relationship with technology. The downside is that it takes more effort from parents to implement. And this is the core of the technology problem.
Delete the addictive apps. I deleted a number of apps for the month of July. Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, and any other app that buzzes in my pocket every waking minute of the day. Full disclosure – I have missed some important friend/family announcements, so coming to terms with “FOMO” [fear of missing out] is essential from the start. I’d suggest taking a few minutes to identify the apps that suck the most minutes out of one’s day, and then ponder if it’s providing a net positive or negative on your life.
Let me introduce you to our group: “DUD – Drop Ur Device”. We are a group of Postgrad students studying in The Innovation Academy in UCD who last week were set a social-media challenge to see how many followers we could get across social media platforms.
The thinking behind our campaign is when you go to reach for your phone or another device, stop and think if you really need to go on it? Then later when you are on your device send us a post and “Tell us what you DUD”. We are trying to encourage people to get outside, go for a walk or call someone instead of reaching for that phone or device. Visit our Facebook page DUD: Drop Ur Device; Twitter @dud_ur; or Instagram dud_dropurdevice.
My son was addicted to gaming. He would not sleep and do his homework, resulting in endless arguments. Years later my step-kids were addicted to their Xbox, getting aggressive when their mum tried to reduce their gaming time.
So I teamed up with my son and developed a product called QTIME which allows parents to monitor, control and even instantly pause their child’s gaming. Irish parents can get it on Amazon. It works in our household.
Set up an obstacle course in your front garden. Use what you have, for example, tennis racket and ball, football cones, skipping rope, netting to go under, football, etc. I did this with my 12, 11 and 7 year old and we had so much fun!
Sell the PlayStation and buy a bike/kayak/football boots/fishing rod. Turn on parental controls, limiting time on the wireless router – pretend it’s acting up if necessary. No devices at dinner, in cars, on holidays, at sleepovers, in bedrooms – parents and kids.
Turn them off – simple