photo credit: http://www.elizabethstreet.com/
I’m just gonna say it. I don’t have screen-time rules at my house. My kids can interact with whatever type of screen they want, pretty much whenever they want–or not. Some of you may think I’m crazy, and others may feel the same way, but here are my 5 reasons for not setting strict screen-time rules.
1. It’s How We Communicate
One of my sisters lives in western South Dakota, the other in London, England and my parents live 3+ hours away. Traveling to see them happens infrequently to never, but thanks to technology that is screen-based–Face-time, Skype, Google Hangouts–we do get to ‘see’ them much more often than we would without our screens.
Alex, age 15, Skype’s with his friends everyday while they play games online. Sophia, age 10, sends silly texts and pictures of her cat to her friends from her phone. To me, these are no different than the hours I tied up the land line gossiping with my friends while doing my make-up. They’re just using current tools to communicate in ways we could not when we were young–all thanks to screens.
2. It’s How We Learn
Since the late 1990s, I’ve been actively online. I taught myself HTML and various other code from online sources, which has moved my career from Communications to IT. With help from the internet, I’ve also learned how to make beer, how cook a variety of different kinds of food, various gardening techniques and I a member of various professional online forums that provide excellent information regarding my business and my career.
Alex knows more about computer hardware and software then I ever will, simply from reading online sources. He has his own server and whenever there’s a PC problem in the house, he can fix it–or knows where to look online for the answers.
Sophia is an aspiring baker and although I love helping her out, I’m more of a cook than a baker. The internet helps her and me learn lots of techniques and recipes.
The internet is an unending universe of information, ready to be consumed. If you want to learn how to do something, you can find it online, for free or via a paid sources–all thanks to screens.
3. It’s How Many of Us Work
My day job is in IT in Corporate America. Most of the people I work with are not in the same time-zone, state or sometimes even country, as I am. I work on my PC, hold meetings on my PC and perform my work on a PC. Honestly, without all these screens, I would be in a totally different line of work and probably much less happy. Oh, and did I mention I do all this work from my home office? Instead of spending up to 3 hours or more in traffic each day, I simply walk over to my desk.
There are so many careers out there where location independence is a real thing. Work can be performed from anywhere, thanks to screens.
4. It Provides Entertainment
My family loves movies and screens are how they’re consumed. We also enjoy family video game nights, funny YouTube videos, Video Chatting with friends and family, sharing our thoughts or asking questions on forums and finding awesome ideas on blogs.
Back when I was a kid, screen time was passive and involved primarily consuming TV. Now screen time isn’t only about absorbing shows, there’s the chance to participate with a larger group that I think is a good thing.
5. There ARE Other Things To Do
Kids, just like adults, can be prompted to do something else if someone suggests it. I find that by suggesting other activities rather than blatantly forbidding specific things (i.e. screen time), the kids do choose other things to do, especially if the rest of the family is involved.
Although both Alex and Sophia spend time in front of screens, they both, on their own, choose to do many things that involve nary a screen. My video game addicted son also loves to read, is on the ski team, speech team and baseball team and has been known to spend time hanging out with his Mom and sister. He also enjoys hunting and fishing with his Dad. My Disney addicted daughter is an avid baker, crafter, hunter and loves running around the neighborhood playing with her friends.
This day and age screens are a part of everyday life for most of us. Knowing how to use all the various screens available is a skill this and future generations can benefit from. Yes, kids and all humans should take a break from their screens, but I believe that encouraging and modeling non-screen time activities is more effective that specific screen time rules…
What about you? What are your thoughts on kids, families and screen time?
Happy Family-Time Everyone,