The past few weeks have been generally stressful in our household for a number of reasons. Despite this we decided to press on with the plan to seriously limit the children’s screen time. For one thing the endless noise of either Minecraft Youtube videos or action movies/ Scooby Doo was literally driving me to distraction.
It has been a hard few weeks for the children as they have literally had to go cold turkey on this one. Its mean quite a lot of shouting, pleading and tantruming. I’ve found adopting a sort of indifferent ‘i’m not listening’ approach has really worked. They simply find its not worth the effort.
The results have been amazing though and although this was only intended to be a stop gap measure I’m seriously thinking I might make it long term with Friday Movie night being their main opportunity to indulge in screen time. There has been a marked increase in reading and an interest in the books which are about the house. I’ve had to clear away piles of toys from the living room and freshly constructed spaceship, dens and caves. Alongside the shouting and fighting there has been more dancing, playing, role playing and conversation.
Overall, I think its a very positive thing. I must admit like everyone else I do tend to use screen time for a bit of babysitting whilst i’m getting on with jobs but now my children are older they don’t need ‘something’ they are perfectly able to entertain themselves. This has been a hard habit to break for me as much as for the children. For us, this sort of cold turkey approach worked best, to try to limit it to stretches of time would not have worked. My children can be very good at arguing their points and its hard not to see their reasoning, this way we cant get into those arguments.
I’m considering a token based approach where they get a token worth ten minutes in exchange for a good deed, chore, or good work/ effort in something. A bit like a sticker system. However, i’m a bit unsure how in practical terms this can work without me having to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the length of TV programmes. So for the moment i’m going to stick with it as we are and make friday night screen time.
I’d be interested to hear what you think. Have you done this? Is this the approach you’d take? Do you have any tips to share?