An online friend came to me the other day asking about some tips on monitoring electronic usage. You see this is one of the biggest issues most parents face. We are raising children that have technology in front of them at all times. Within my household alone we have at least 4 tablets, 3 smartphones, 3 computers, a Wii game console, a PS3 and I am sure other items that I can’t recall while writing this article. The home is full of temptations to be online and with two work at home adults in the house, it’s easy to see that the kids want to be on electronics when the parents are always on theirs working. The desire to be on technology is great, the desire that kids want to interact with game playing or get lost in something online makes sense, as this is the world they are being raised in. With that being said, you can respect your kids desires for electronics while still working to monitor limits so they learn other life skills necessary to survive as an adult.
Today I wanted to share a few ideas I have implemented over the years as a means to monitor and track electronic usage. I am a bit more laid back than other parents I have spoken to, but these ideas have worked well for me – that is when I remain consistent with implementation. Once you get off the bandwagon and let electronic time become more lax, getting back on track is harder and will take time. Give yourself some credit, it’s not easy being a parent, we all get off track.
A Chore for Electronic Time
This is a great way to get the house clean while allowing your kid a little fun. Assign electronic time based upon what chore(s) were completed. It’s quite common within our house for us to make a deal with the kids, especially my middle child who is autistic. Let’s say he wants to be on YouTube, the PS3 or some other electronic device. We try our best to assign a chore; basically it’s handled like this: if you take the trash bags down to dumpster you can have half hour on an electronic device of your choice. This never works out peacefully; you see it’s rare for any of the kids to immediately agree upon this “deal”. How I prefer to keep the peace and handle my heart rate staying steady is to tell them they can have ‘x’ amount of time on electronics when said chore is completed. I repeat that line a few times then walk away. If they come to me to ask again, I repeat that line again. It gets old, I tell you, but it works. Leave your kid alone to make the decision themselves, be certain to shut off all electronics, set them out of reach, etc. so that the kid quickly learns they have no choice but to do a chore or sit and do nothing. Within half an hour, most of my kids will step up and start doing whatever chore was assigned.
Siblings: Encourage them to Play a Game Together
In our household we are Minecraft fanatics, yes even I am caught getting addicted to that game. One thing I like to do every so often is allow electronic time so as long as my three kiddos are paying something together. You see, this encourages team work and communication, of course it also encourages sibling rivalry but they need to work through this! Whether it is Minecraft or a new Beyblade game my sons play together over a WiFi connection on their tablets, I like to take moments to encourage teamwork by allowing electronic time only if they do something together. I truly believe this works fantastically for developing communication, teamwork and leadership skills.
Set a Schedule
This idea of setting a schedule has been something discussed within our household but we haven’t quite mastered nor tried to implement it yet. I have seen this work well for many families and with us having a child on the autism spectrum, routine is necessary. Print out a calendar template or purchase an annual calendar. Assign specific dates and times to be devoted strictly to electronic time. When you start to use a schedule, there are less meltdowns and arguments because your kids soon get used to being on that routine. When your household has a steady routine, with or without a kid on the spectrum, they simply start to thrive. It’s also not a bad idea to have your kid help you color code this schedule of electronic usage; kids tend to respect and appreciate a routine more when involved in the planning stages.
Be the Example
Last, but certainly not least, as I mentioned my boyfriend and I both work from home full time which means we are often on our computers to get work done and provide customer service for our membership sites. It’s difficult for us to walk away from work at times and even when I walk away from work it’s hard for me to not check messages from my smartphone. I am an avid promoter of being the example for your kids. These kids look up to you first and foremost, so it’s time to start learning how to let go of your own electronic addiction as a means to show your kids that life still functions without electronic devices. If you learn to monitor your own electronic usage by putting that smartphone down and sitting to enjoy a board game, have a little chat and be certain to have a family meal together without electronics at least once per day, you will soon find that the kids start to enjoy being around you without electronics and in turn develop their own sense of balance with electronic usage.
You Can Implement Change Anytime
If you have found yourself off track today with monitoring electronic usage, I truly hope that these ideas work well to help you gain control of the household again while creating a peaceful environment full of less meltdowns and more happiness.