"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!" 5 Ways to lessen your child's screen time.
It's 2019 and we are totally submerged in this technological era. We can make phone calls from our watches, order food from our refrigerators, and stream our favorite TV shows without those pesky commercials. It's a wonderful time to be alive but, it comes at the cost of our parenting when our children can be so easily indoctrinated with the world's way of doing things. It's all about the screen time and there's no parental controls or restrictions that can undo what gets past our children's eyes. So, how do we take control of our children's screen time and implement quality time?
1. GET RID OF THE GUILT
Here's a news flash: Amusement is not your highest priority!!! If your children are bored...so what! If your children demand to be entertained...so what! If they're comparing your parenting to others...so what! Guilt has no place in parenting, NONE. "Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray." Proverbs 10:17 Our responsibility as gatekeepers to these babies are to make sure they turn into honorable adults and if that means being extra watchful over what media they're consuming then...
Guilt is actually a selfish feeling. It demands that you focus on how you feel over what is right. If your child throws himself on the floor because you've taken away his iPad and guilt comes creeping in telling you to give him just a few more minutes, you have pacified your feelings over doing what's right for your child. Giving your child screen time as way to pacify them trains them to only calm down by receiving something as opposed to learning to sooth themselves.
Don't fall prey to a useless emotion that will teach your children how to manipulate you. They will become the authority and your guilt will cripple you into conceding to their demands.
2. GET OLD SCHOOL
Now, before discouragement sets in and you feel like competing with HD cartoons or social media is an uphill battle, don't. Come up with ways to have fun without technology. You get to set the atmosphere of your home. Use tons of enthusiasm and passion. Break out your favorite board games. Pitch a tent outside. You can do the old way of fun proud if only you put in effort and get your children involved.
It's gonna be a fight but, don't shy away from it. Your children have gotten so use to doing nothing in order to have a good time, that "old school" fun will draw some resistance but, consistency is key. Perhaps implementing "old school" fun right after chores or homework will make them see how rewarding it is. Make it the highlight of a school night or a Saturday morning this will build good habits, cut down screen time, and prayerfully begin new traditions your children can bring up their own babies in.
3. GET BOSSY
In spite of the negative connotation this may have, it simply means to establish authority in your home. Get bossy, draw the lines, set the rules, and implement your will. If you do this from the beginning your are training your child in the way he/she should go. (Proverbs 22:6) Let there be punishment for disobedience and rewards for honor. Children today are way to free with their secrecy, unscheduled bed times, and prolonged privacy with screen time. Interrupt their comfort, destroy their privacy, and upset their bad habits.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and we can use that healthy fear, that revered honor our children should have for us as a way to reel them in. When we create an environment where honor trumps entertainment it gets easier for our children to pull away from their screens. When the consequences of disobedience is clear and faithfully implemented we are guiding our children toward good habits.
4. GET NOSY
The more time our children spend consuming content with adult scenarios the more they feel independent from our parenting. There are tons of subliminal messages, teen actors placed in adult positions, and grown up fictional situations that give our babies a false sense of authority over their lives. The language is course, the wardrobes are revealing, and the entertainment value is catered to a dollar amount, not to the mental health of our children.
So get nosy. Sit down and watch what your children watch. Be diligent in asking questions. Go beyond that flimsy parental control option and really see what your children are ingesting through their eyes and ears. Get all up in their business! Hebrews 12:11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."Go further...check what their friends are watching as well, not all parents are the same.
5. GET EDUCATED
Here are some daunting facts:
-Toddlers who are exposed to more than one hour of screen time a day have lower brain development.
-A human's brain develops most rapidly during the first five years of life.
-Excessive TV watching is linked to the inability of children paying attention and thinking clearly.
-Excessive screen time increases poor eating habits and behavioral problems
-Delays in language learning and poor sleep are also due to too much screen time
We must get educated! Our babies are depending on us to know better so that they can do better. The sole responsibility falls on us. We have to teach our children limits and boundaries, we have to teach them the blessing of honor and the price of disobedience. It's not going to be easy but we gatekeepers who are entrusted to the next generations are equipped with the Word of God and resources to help us succeed.