Take a look at what happened when we did it.
We have all looked at the top of our children’s heads as they are bent over their iPads and hoped that this time will be different. This time, when we ask them to put the ipad down and start their homework, they will do what we ask, without ‘losing it.’
But then we ask them and we find ourselves having the same conversation again.
We had web content filters installed on all of the devices in our home and we had hard and fast rules about when the devices could be used. Occasionally things got pretty hairy while we juggled supervised screen time for 3 children (aged 5, 10 & 12). And the kids knew it. What we needed was a Cybersafety Solution that managed 3 separate screen time routines for us AND applied suitable filters to different aged children.
We found what we were looking for and setup it up. I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy for the kids to accept at first. We had sat down with the children and discussed what we were planning to do and asked for their input on how the routines would look. Reality set in on the first day when WiFi access dropped out at 7.15am so that we could concentrate on getting ready for school. We leave at 7.55am and it had previously been agreed that if one was completely ready for school, that they may sit on the lounge to use the iPad until it was time to go. Not everyone was honest about being ready! We continued to have these ‘moments of reality’ throughout the first day and over the following days made small adjustments to each child’s routine.
When I mention to friends and family about what we have in place now, there is a lot of eye rolling. Not because they don’t think it is a valid exercise to manage children’s screen time, but because they are having scary flashes about what might happen if they try the same method in their own homes. Here’s the thing. Children are very adaptable. The kids became very accepting of the new screen time routines very quickly.
And now I’d like to share with you some of the changes we’ve noticed in our home since putting the screen time routines in place.
- Our 3 children now seek each other out to play together more often. Mostly, two in particular play together and their games have increased in imagination.
- They no longer notice when the WiFi goes off at night. This happens one hour before their bedtime. Having the WiFi off 1 hour before bedtime makes our normal night time routine much smoother. This is because they are calmer.
- They tend to fall asleep faster and I would actually go as far as saying that they possibly sleep longer.
- We have ‘Study’ mode set for after school while they are doing homework. This mode allows them to only access educational apps and websites. Study time extends past the time that they finish their homework. They are used to this happening and now look to other activities. We have noticed that they tend not to use devices at all before showers and dinner time.
- Before school is much smoother. We choose to allow device time early in the morning until 6.45am. After that, they are busy getting ready and if they have time up their sleeves, then there are jobs to do or they can watch TV for a few minutes.
I’m happy to be able to say that I felt our kids had quite a healthy balance when it came to daily screen time before we implemented the routines. Now though, I don’t have to be constantly looking to see who is on the iPad and how long they have been on it. My children don’t have to listen to my voice as I tell them, yet again, that it is time to put the device down. Our cybersafety solution automatically does this for me and the kids know what to expect with the routine.
We haven’t become completely obsolete when it comes to screen time management though. We still remind the children that devices are not be used whilst we have visitors, that we don’t take the devices out anywhere with us and that they must be put down immediately if we ask.
There are times when we pop into the cybersafety solution dashboard and make a quick change to the routine to suit the day. As the children get older and the demands on their time changes, so too will the screen time routines change to suit.
I am so very glad that we went down this path and pleased to be able to guide our children on healthy screen time use.
Too scared to implement a screen time routine
Every family is unique. There is no magic screen time routine that works for every family. That is why planning and family input are vital ingredients to making it work. If you need a guiding hand to setup a screen time routine in your home, then please contact us for a personalised consultation.