As a teacher, it is very evident that many children are literally going through withdrawals from video games when they start back at school. (My own children included, I am sure!) The brain stimulation that occurs with video games and phone usage becomes addicting to children.
We have to be proactive and dedicated to helping our children have balance in a life full of stimulating screens.
Being intentional to set screen boundaries for your children is key to keep things from getting out of control. Most children struggle with setting their own boundaries with screens, so we have to consciously make decisions to help them have balance.
Our family's summer screen rules are different from our screen rules during school. During the school year:
1. No screens from Monday through Thursday. The tv is off (except for Monday night football, of course). No ipod or phone usage unless using it to text or make phone calls.
2. Fridays they can unwind with screens after school. This is a nice reward for them after a long week at school, and it is something they look forward to.
3. Saturday and Sunday screen usage is dependent upon how much they had on Friday.
4. Their screen usage on the weekends has variety. They aren't allowed too much of one thing. So, for example, if they have had enough video game time, then they are done with video games for the weekend, but their screen time can involve turning on the tv, etc. This keeps the brain from depending on that same stimulation for a period of time.
5. One weekend a month or so is no screens. Screens off that weekend.
It is key for our family to have a no-screen rule for Monday through Thursday for many reasons:
1. Their brains have an extended period of time without screens, which is helpful for their well being and balance.
2. We have more intentional time together as a family. Much of their day is spent at school, so their time at home needs to count. More memories are created together when screens aren't an option.
3. My children develop a closer bond with each other and grow in their relationship as siblings. They interact face to face and play together, as opposed to interacting with their faces to a screen.
4. They are more active. This one is pretty obvious. If the kids are not glued to a screen, they are usually running around and playing outside or at least walking around a bit, instead of being stationary.
5. They sleep better. They transition to bed better and fall asleep quicker.
6. There is no fussing or whining about screens. When they know screens are not an option, they don't ask for them and they don't whine about not having them.
7. It's out of their mind. They don't think about screens at all because they are not going to happen.
Here are some things our kids can do instead of screens. These will help them grow to be more balanced and well-rounded:
1. Play outside
2. Go on walks together
3. Be creative (Create something)
5. Help with cooking.
6. Play with pets
8. So much more!!
Again, screens can easily keep us stuck in a rut, existing in status quo. So, make rules for screens for your family this school year. Your kids will be ok without them. Take charge to live intentionally, making the most of the short time we have with our children this school year.