Friday, May 6, 2011

52 Tool Cards: Limit Screen Time

Last week I picked a tool card that I already understand and regularly apply. This week I decided to pick a more challenging tool card, one I really truly need to work on.

Limit Screen Time
Screen time is addictive and interferes with relationships.

1) For young children, be careful about using the TV as a babysitter.
2) Do not allow computers or TVs or cell phones in children's rooms.
3) Make agreements with children about how much TV, video games, texting adn internet time is reasonable.
4) Brainstorm fun alternative activities, that bring family members together.


I have a serious screen time addiction of my own, and have allowed C to develop one as well.  I'll address each of the four points in turn:

1) I've definitely allowed the TV and computer to be a babysitter. When C was born I swore I wouldn't do this, but when she entered toddlerhood would sometimes let her watch a half-hour program while I made dinner. Then I started movie marathons somewhat out of necessity after I had my miscarriage in October and on sick days since then and and it's become a bad habit. C begs for movies, or favorite shows like Dora and Miffy and Angelina Ballerina.  But screentime isn't just TV. Starting from the first days of her birth, I've used the computer to pass the time when she nurses or needs to be held through a nap.  When C thinks of what it means to be an adult, she probably thinks it means sitting on your butt in a chair staring at a screen.

2) No TV, cell phone or computer in anyone's bedroom, so I'm ok on this point.

3) In order to make an agreement with C about how much screen time is reasonable for her, I need to decide how much is reasonable for me. I'm so often parked in front of the computer. It's definitely an addiction for me. At the same time, I'm a writer and a computer is a tool of the trade. I use the computer to work on my novel and to blog. I use the computer to connect with friends and family who I no longer live near and friends I only have met online. How much is too much? I don't have much self control or self discipline in this area. It seems like once I start I have a hard time stopping.

4) Brainstorm alternative activities ... I'm often successful staying off the computer in the morning if we spend time working on outside chores like chicken tending, weeding, or going to events out of the house (Bible study, play dates) or running errands. Where I generally fall is the afternoon and evening. C takes a nap and even if I don't end up holding her through it, I feel like I want to unwind too. Unwind = online for me. What else could I do instead during C's naps and after she is in bed at night?
  • Knit or crochet - I recently learned both skills and have two works in progress: a knit cardigan sweater for C and a crocheted blanket to donate to Project Linus
  • Clean the house?
  • Bible study/devotional time
  • Longhand writing exercises
  • Sketch
  • Sew
  • Bake
  • Start dinner

I also tend to get the itch to check in on email, facebook, Gentle Christian Mothers and other online places I hang out whenever I have some downtime ... like say I'm defrosting meat for dinner, I'll use the 5 minutes until the microwave dings to sit at the computer.   For these times, what could I do instead?
  • Tidy up, declutter, clean
  • Read C a book
  • Get down on the floor and play with C
This is an area where I've sworn change before but failed.  I honestly have no idea how to break the addiction short of giving away the darn things and disconnecting the internet. 

Thoughts, commiseration, encouragement are welcome!

1 comment:

  1. Margaret, I don't think you are alone in this area. We scrolled through Special Agent Oso's FB page and found TONS of comments from parents whose kids love the parents of kids 4 months, 6 months and a year old! I don't mean to be judgmental but what are kids THAT young doing in front of a tv??? E's pediatrician has always said that kids don't need any more than 30 minutes of tv a day...meaning 30 minutes of watching tv with a parent. If E is watching something, I TRY to make sure I'm watching and engaging with him. He's learned many new words from Oso. BUT, with the weather (here in Ohio at least) hopefully getting nice and warm, we are shutting off our DirecTV until later this year. We did it last year and are repeating the decision to encourage ourselves to get outside! and it saves money too.

    Be encouraged fellow momma! You are aware and want to make changes. Go easy on yourself. Start small. You don't have to change everything all at once. C will adapt. Mommahood sure is challenging, isn't it?? But SUCH a blessing. Love you friend.


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