I remember my mom standing between the TV and us kids while we were watching cartoons Saturday morning. Making sure we listen to what she has to say, making eye contact, trying to disconnect us from the screen. Nowadays, you can’t really do that, as there are so many devices and some are at the palm of their hands.
With Screen parents don’t have to worry as they just customize the message to turn it off. When the time to tun it off, the kids sees it, and turn the device is off (if not, Screen does it for them).
We have Screen being used all over the world. We wanted to share some nice messages the parents on our team are sending their kids (some in their native tongue).
We would love for you to share with us yours. Please put a comment what message you send your kids via Screen?
Screen Free Alternative for Kids – Not Just Arts & Crafts
It is hard to find things to do while off our electronic devices! That is why our parenting advisors recommend thinking of alternative for screens not as the device is not available, but ahead of time while we are not stuck on playing with it.
Screen parenting advisors suggest parents to come up with one idea for alternatives, while the kids come up with the rest.
I did it too! But before I discussed alternatives with my kids, I was brainstorming with my husband on what alternatives we can suggest to them. Playing outside at the backyard is one, riding their bikes is another, playing basketball…
For a rainy day we suggested arts and crafts, board games, cooking. But I know I had to be more specific, so I googled! I came across some great sites that can help, and I thought I should share them with you.
Remember, alternatives to screen time should be age appropriate
Food network offers some cool recipes for cooking with kids. For Sesame Street fans, here are some more.
My mom always told me never to eat in front of the TV. As my mom is a very wise woman, I’m still not sure if she did it because she did not want crumbs all over her sofa or because of another reason. No matter her reason, I was a good girl doing as I was told.
Now that I have children of my own, the only time I let them eat while watching TV, playing on the computer, or engaging in a video game activity is when they are sick and I want something to “get into their system” (most likely liquid or fruits). But I was curious to why it is not so good , so I researched it.
Let me share with you some of the reasons to why screen time and food should not be mixed (besides the obvious of crumbs all over the place, or in my case spilling coffee all over my keyboard), as there are so many.
First and foremost, a child will consume more food while staring at the screen. Our kids will pay attention to one thing, and one thing only: their screen. I can stand next to them, talk, dance, make faces, you name it, but their eyes will remain glued to the screen. If they have food in their hands, they will just eat it without paying attention, any kind of food and much more than they should.
Second , kids that watch TV are exposed to more advertisements for unhealthy foods, such as fast food or sodas, vs fruits and vegetables. Even for us adults making the healthy choice it is not easy, so I can understand why a child will prefer the colorful exciting junk, seen on a TV ad, over fruit or veggie. I’m sure you will agree that establishing healthy eating habits should start at young age.
Third, kids that are spending their time in-front of their electronic devices are less likely to be active (With the exception of dancing or exercising with the help of xBox, Wii, or another type of game console). The national guidelines recommend at least an hour of physical activity every day for children and teens, but how can they do that if they are on their cellphone or on their computer?
These unhealthy habit lead us to one problem, and it’s a big one – OBESITY.
As a mom reading the CDC Childhood Obesity Facts, I must say I’m concerned. How can we prevent that in our home? Lets start by following my mom’s rule – No eating while on screens!
To add to that, I suggest giving the kids alternatives for their screens as mentioned in my 6 to 9 post.
Photographer Donna Stevens created a series of shots of toddlers watching TV. She wanted to explore the reality of life, in this case an artistic way to show how mind-numbing screen time is.
As a mom of three I am no stranger to this look. The look every parent sees when his/her kids sit in front of the TV. The passive, zoned out “zombie” look. I dare you to engage in a conversation with a child who’s watching TV – it’s impossible. They are “glued” to it and it is our job to get them unstuck.
There is nothing wrong with a little bit of screen time. The problem starts when that little bit becomes a lot.
6 hours per day – that’s how long kids spend on electronic devices. This number jumps to 9 hours as they are become teens. This by the way, excludes time spent on school related work. Studies show that half of the time our kids our doing something, the TV is on, too.
50% is a lot of time to rock the “zombie look”!
How can we change that? By setting time limitations on screen usage, and teaching our kids healthy media habits. It starts at the age f 3 when our cute little toddler asks for the remote to watch his show, and continue as our kids grow. The next time you are considering turning on the TV, remember the following image and go do something else…
I stumbled across this picture in my feed today and it stopped me cold. Our kids are definitely not thinking about the undeletable, inexhaustible archive of their best – and possibly worst moments being stored for their kids to bump into generations from now. How will this saucy selfie from insta be explained?
They say don’t write anything in an email you wouldn’t want your boss to read. Well, kids (and mom and dad), an even better rule of thumb – don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandchild to see!
Consider your digital footprint before every post,
In a previous post I mentioned media diet, and that it is time to start one with our children. But before I dive into the tips and tricks on that, let me start by describing why we need a diet, what’s the problem, or better MY PROBLEM.
I have three children that I love dearly, my youngest is 6 years old and my oldest is 12. My three beautiful children love playing. My youngest in ‘dress ups’ & ‘family’, my middle one by hanging out with her friends, and for my oldest, sport is his thing. However on an Electronic Day – no one cares about anything, all they want to do is to maximize their two hours in-front of their screens. It could be a gorgeous day outside, but they are locked in their own electronics world.
Let me back up – what is an “Electronic Day”? It is a rule we use for my family to distinguish between the days my kids are allowed to use their electronic devices, and the days there are not.
In my household we try and keep it simple and allow them on their electronic devices on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays. Leaving Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays electronics free!
Easy, Clear, Simple.
What if they need to do their homework on a non electronics day? I allow the computer for the duration of homework only, and then again we are “Hamish”.
Ever since we started with that and it is part of their routine, it’s amazing to see how they are not seeking electronics on the electronic free days. Why? Because it’s a simple rule to follow, and they know they will get their time tomorrow.
As we all know, kids need boundaries wrapped in simple rules, and this is no different.
With that simple rule it is amazing to see them spending their time the way I expect them to: playing with friends, riding their bikes, blowing bubbles, playing “family”, digging for worms, and so much more…
Going back to the media diet, “Electronic days” is your first step. As with food, we need to start small. This diet is no different. My suggestion to you is to try and apply Electronic days in your house. Pick days that are good for you and see how it goes.
Now that I work with Screen we incorporated our rules to Screen, and Screen makes sure we follow them. We even signed an agreement for that. But that’s for next time.
Simple atlernative, riding a bike – Credit pixabay.com
By now everyone knows I created Screen out of the frustration seeing my kids lost in their electronic devices and the effects I saw it had on them. Now there’s a growing discussion of the role screen time plays in the lives of children and adults. And our Screen team is part of that conversation. We spent last Sunday in NYC at a Screen Time Social Summit among educators, authors, researchers, and parents diving into the topic of screen time.
Among the many highlights of the day for me was the chance to demo Screen for parents (great reception!) and a panel discussion moderated by Kateri Jochum, that included author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers, Nancy Jo Sales, and Kristelle Lavallee of the Center on Media and Child Health.
What struck me most is the sheer number of hours kids spend on devices: Kids 8-12 spend 9 hours per day on electronic device, and this number jumps to 9 hours once they’re teenagers. This by the way, excludes school related work. Those numbers were mentioned in every session and every panel throughout the day, and they are alarming.
But I am not here only to talk about numbers. I want to share my epiphany from the day – since the problem is framed in terms of time, the key to changing that number is to surface ALTERNATIVES to spending time on devices. And, of course, the space for alternative activities is baked into Screen.
What are “Alternatives”?
Among the massive research we did while we created Screen, we interviewed parents about their kids and their behaviors around screens.
I will never forget this one mom that told me her “kids play sports and that helps keeps them grounded and out of trouble.” Having other activities to replace some of the technology time, is the key to raising grounded kids.
Picture this scenario: a middle schooler comes home around 3:30PM. By 5PM she’s finished her homework. Now what? The easiest way to fill the time and get immediate feedback and entertainment is to click into social media, turn on the TV – or most likely both at once. It’s a lot easier than, riding her bike – in the rain – to visit a friend two blocks away…
But if our same middle schooler had talked the night before about other things she wanted to do the next day, she just might be inclined to go and do it! Play a sport, get creative with the bedazzle gun, build a 3D model (for real), bake a cake or even a loaf of bread. Any activity that will enable her to be explore, socialize, fill up her time – with no tech – for just a little bit!
I cannot tell you what your kids’ new hobby or latest interest will be – it’s different for each child and it will probably change often. I do know it’s our job as their parents to explore that with them. Our kids need our guidance to find who they are and what they like. They need to find that by exploring and experimenting with other interests besides technology.
I encourage you to give it a try. Find that “alternative” with your kids. If you feel like sharing, I would love to hear.
I recently read this article by Bruce Feiler at the NY Times about the impact technology has on our children. If you do not have the time to read it, here is one quote that sums it up: “… young people were spending so much time looking into screens that they were losing the ability to read nonverbal communications and learn other skills necessary for one on one interactions…”
It is not easy to be a kid, not when I was growing up, and it’s even harder now. We all know that, and we’ve all been there. The difference is that we didn’t have so much technology at our disposal, tempting us everywhere we go, keeping us trapped in this virtual world and preventing us from experiencing the real one. However, this is the world we are living in, a world with technology, for better and for worst.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and all its’ benefits, but I’m realistic – and as it’s mentioned at all the fairytale stories: “All magic comes with a price”. Our price is needing to moderate technology consumption for our kids.
I believe in learning by putting yourself out there, with real interactions with real people, and actually experiencing life – experiencing it in the “real world” and not in the “digital world”.
I see my kids prefer playing on their video games rather than playing outside and… well, it doesn’t break my heart, but it makes me sad. Sad and annoyed, because I want them to grow to be the best human being they possibly can, but how can they do that when their noses are stuck in their electronic devices. This is my job as their mom to guide and teach them to use technology in moderation – but how?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends spending no more than two hours consuming electronics, again – any suggestion how to enforce it?
That’s where media diet comes into place, and that deserve its own post. Please stick around as this post is only an introduction to a series of posts I plan on writing. From my experience with my kids, some strategies I have to deal with that, and a lot of statistics and information from the “prose” – the “real stuff” us parents need to know.
Feel free to leave me comments and thoughts so I know what you are thinking on this subject, and please stick around for more…
9 hours every day. That’s how much time teens are using screens daily. And, that number doesn’t include school or homework. Don’t think it’s much different for younger kids; they spends 6 non-educational hours a day on their devices!
Let’s face it, our kids are on screens nearly all the time, and they can’t put them down. Sounds a lot like they’re addicted! I’m not sure we asked for this, but in the digital age, it falls on parents to manage kids’ time on screens and make sure they develop lifelong healthy screen habits.
But it’s hard to do. Given that the average family has 10 to 12 devices – meaning many of us have MORE – iPad, Kindle, iPhone, android, PC, xBox, PlayStation, Roku, Chromecast, Kano, AppleTV… I could go on – no matter how much we try, it’s almost impossible for parents to manage so many screens over so much time.
This is why I created Screen, one system that allows you, the parent, to manage ALL the kids’ devices at any giving moment, anywhere you are, and anywhere your kids go.
It’s Easy to Setup
All you need to do is plug the Screen box to your TV, download the app, and you’re all set to start managing all devices. It’s that simple!
Screen Works When Devices are Online or Unconnected
Once setup, Screen works independent of wifi, 4G, or internet connection. No internet. No problem. Using Screen, your kids can’t Minecraft – offline – when it’s time for dinner!
When Screen Turns off a Device, It’s Off
When it’s time for kids’ to be off their device, Screen will lock the device, so it cannot be used online or offline. Any device you want them off – is off. No more texting at 1am in bed, period!
Screen Works ANYWHERE
ANYWHERE kids and their devices go – home, school, soccer practice, even at their friends’ houses. And, it works from anywhere YOU are. Whether you’re at home, work, or an airport in Bangkok, you can see WHERE and WHEN a device is being used and on WHAT apps or sites it’s being used. You’ll know when it’s time to call home!
Screen is Flexible.
Turn off, or add/subtract time on any device with a single swipe. If my son hasn’t finished his homework before Screen rules will shut down his computer, I can add time with a single swipe on the Screen dashboard – from home or anywhere I might be.
Screen has changed my family’s life. It’s allowed us all (I’ll share a secret; it’s really hard for me to stop checking emails into the night) to put away our devices , sometimes. I know Screen can do the same to you!