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Tick-Tock Time Management
Worried About Too Much Screen Time? Talk It Over with your Kids!
Passing the hours through the colder months can be trickier, and I remember that the days can feel much longer. This time of year, equally full of potential, requires us to work harder to structure our time in meaningful ways.
I hear regularly from parents concerned with the long hours their kids spend in front of screens during the wintertime. Worried their children aren’t getting outdoors, socializing, reading or creating enough, conscientious parents feel like they must do something to remedy the situation. Most often, well-intentioned parents’ first attempt to tackle the screen time dilemma is by restricting usage. “You can have two hours on the computer and that’s it.” Naturally enough, this approach is most often met with groans and resentment.
My suggestion to parents in this situation is always the same. Try, whenever possible, to avoid restrictions of this kind. Instead, like all the tricky moments that pop up in a day, consider navigating screen time as an opportunity for learning—both on your part and your child’s.
Begin a dialogue with your son or daughter that starts with questions. “I notice that you’ve been on your computer a lot lately. Will you show me some of the things you’ve been enjoying there the most?” You may be surprised to find your child has been learning to code or is studying a foreign language, or reading about politics. It may be your child has a favorite game she is getting very good at or your son is learning new dance moves on YouTube. Show that you are interested. Engage with whatever it is your child is doing online.
Once you know what your child is doing online, you’ll have a better sense of determining how much time he actually needs there in order to accomplish specific goals. Come up with what’s a reasonable amount of time together. This is a wonderful way for your child to learn time management—an invaluable skill essential to ensuring his success in the future.
Once you and your child have determined what constitutes a reasonable length of time on the computer, discuss how the rest of the day can be better managed. Find out what else your child would like to do. It may be that she has lots of ideas, but you may also be surprised to find your child has no idea what to do if she isn’t on their computer. Here’s your chance to get creative and offer some meaningful suggestions. Maybe your homeschool needs more social outings, field trips, cooking adventures or art projects. Think outside the box. Surprise your child. Offer our children something they won’t be able to resist.
One of the beautiful things about the season we are in is the time it allows us to rest, go inward a bit, and explore important skills like time management. Enter into these talks with joy, affirmation, love and positivity—your children are learning such great things.