Food For Thought Friday: Screen Time Rules

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I am sure you will see the irony of this post, but I assure you that my children are all sound asleep snug in their beds as I hunt and peck here. I had a dream last night that I was at an event, and everyone was dressed up (so it must have been a pretty important event), and I had no idea what the event was because I was glued to the computer. Was it a dream imitating life? Possibly. You see, I do most of my work from home... on the computer. While work does not take up all my time, it takes up enough that my children see the computer hiding my face a lot more than I'd like. I'd be lying, by the way, if I told you that I don't take generous detours while working, after all, I am in charge of managing my work schedule (mostly).

We have been seriously putting limits on the amount of screen time the four year-old is getting here at the Lindstrom house. You see, he has recently added computer/video games (appropriate parent approved educational ones) into his repertoire, and the need to put very strict limits where we have formerly been pretty loosey goosey is now more necessary than ever. We have a pretty good reward system going where he gets to play on the computer for 20 minutes at the end of the day (supervised) if he behaves appropriately throughout the day. Additionally, he is allowed an hour (max) of cartoons in the morning and another hour (max) in the evening before bed. I haven't given a whole lot of thought to the Twinstrom's screen time, because they are a little young for the screen, but it's not too far down the road, I'm sure.

In any case, what I really haven't given enough thought to is my own screen time and the message it sends to them. When the Twinstroms were newborns, we had just gotten our "smartphones" and those little gadgets would help keep us up during the late night feedings. You'd be surprised how enticing late night twitter feeds are as opposed to midnight infomercials for Girls Gone Wild. As the Twinstroms have gotten older, I don't know that we have entirely gotten out of the habit around here of being Black-buried. I am ashamed that I used that crutch to stay awake during those fleeting moments of midnight cuddle time that I had with my baby bundles. I have noticed parents at the park (not recently, goodness gracious, I have barely noticed people outside in this mad disgusting weather) who are keeping more track of what's going on on their smartphones than what is going on with their kids. While I love the accessibility of social networks for the virtual connection they provide between people, I equally hate them for the real live connections that they slowly disintegrate between people. I could go on about how I think we sometimes rely on the manufactured virtual connection over the real life, face to face connection in friendships, but where we really lose it is when we prioritize that even for moments, over our face to face connection with our children. That said, for parents who work from home, the screen time can be unavoidable.

What I'm requesting of myself, (and anyone else who is up for it) is that we put as much, if not more thought into the message we send our children with our screen time as we do to how much screen time we allow our children. Keeping in mind that even our littlest ones notice when we are trading the important eye contact for the iContact. How do you limit your own screentime, and how do you limit that of your kids?

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