So I came home from church today. The kids' behavior was pretty good at church, considering that we had to be there through 2.5 services. As soon as we were in the car, my daughter asked me, "Mom, can we watch TV?"
As I was driving, I considered the possibility. The kids listened and were fairly well behaved. so I said, "We will see."
We snacked and my daughter started throwing Sun Chips at the table. So I said, "You need to sweep the floor and clean the living room before we can earn TV time." Then she got out the broom and put her plate on the counter and started cleaning up the living room.
After 10 mins of watching her build a ball contraption for her brother to roll his ball into the Little Tikes hoop, she started cleaning up the living room. I told her the "Faster we clean up, the faster we can watch TV."
The she got to work. The living room had blocks everywhere. There were pillows piled all over the floor (from them jumping into them). Mr. Potato Head's body parts were under the couch.
30 minutes later, she had cleaned up the living room. We started watching "Garfield." She said there was a "scary" episode, so we switched to her favorite show, "Phineas and Ferb." She says she likes it because they "build stuff."
After 30 minutes of the episode, I turn it off and put my son to nap. Then my daughter and I do something more constructive, like: coloring, or doing a craft.
Sometimes, we earn extra screen time at night. Especially on the weekends when we can have family movie time. Sometimes daddy comes home from work and he breaks out the old vintage video games.
But TV time is ALWAYS earned. We have a reward chart that has 10 spaces on it. If she gets to space number 5, then she earns TV time half-way through the day. If she gets all the way to number 10, then we get to choose a prize from the prize bucket. We have fun picking out little things from the dollar tree. Candy from holidays goes in there too!
We always have to finish our chores and work before earning TV time/ screen time. I don't own a tablet for the kids. Nor do I let them play games on my phone, unless it's an emergency. If we don't do them, then we don't earn screen time.
If we are on a long trip to my mom's house (4 hours) then we do a dvd in the player. But I also have an entire box of books in the car that we get from the library every week. So in the car, we NEVER do screen time (unless it's a road trip).
At home, they know that the TV is NEVER on all day. The only TV that they are allowed to watch are a handful of shows on netflix on the kid's channel. We don't have any channels on the TV. We don't pay for it. Therefore, she never see commercials.
When friends are over, we never watch TV. It's rare if they have a play date. So I want them do just that- play! When they go over to their friend's house, they usually are entrapped in the every-playing TV. I can tell that they don't really play or interact at all when that happens. So I usually like them to play at my house.
When a babysitter is over, they can earn some TV time, because I know it makes it easier for the sitter. But I usually say that they can watch, after they have played a little bit.
Alyvia knows that she can't just push buttons on my phone and play random youtube videos. She knows that there are certain shows that are scary. She knows that she has to make good choices. I always have to pre-approve the show before they can watch a new show.
She knows that when I play the radio in the house, I usually play the local Christian station, or I have a Pandora kids station that we listen too. Sometimes we'll do Disney songs or other fun songs.
She asked me the other day, "Why is there bad music, mom?" I told her that we have to make choices.
I told her that it's like choosing what we put into our bodies. At the grocery store, there are TONS of choices we can make. Good food gives us good energy. Bad food, might taste good, but it won't make us feel good at the end of the day. We talk about how "special food" is a reward.
We use the screen a lot in our educational experience. We use the screen for school time with our Youtube playlists. She does her music lessons using a computer program. The library has kid-friendly touch screen computers that they can play vido games on.
But my daughter knows that we need to play and "be creative" as well. We try to do a field trip everyday to a different place. That way, we are not "stuck in the house" all day. I know when I feel stuck, I get lazy and want to just "chill."
We try to do a lot of things before even watching TV. I know as a kid, we only earned TV time on the weekend. We just played outside all the time.
But it was a different time then. We could just roam around the neighborhood. We road our bikes everywhere.
Now, we really have to be careful where our kids are, even digitally. The internet is an even more dangerous place than the actual neighborhood.
I would never let me my kids have their phone in their room, or even have a smart phone at all. I had a Nokia "brick" phone until I was a parent, so they can have the same. I didn't die. If they want facebook, they can have it on our family computer in the middle of the house. That why I know what they are looking at.
I know that there is tons of research about the amount of screen time that kids should be getting.
But I think the most important question is "What are you teaching your kids through the use of screen time?" Are they learning that they need to make choices? Do that learn that technology is a tool that we control, not that it controls us? Do they understand that media is a reward?
I think that those points are more important to emphasize, then the actual amount of screen time they have per day.
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