Monday, March 4, 2013

Screen Time

Screen time often comes up in unschooling conversations, and the typical approach sounds something like, "My kids watch however much tv as they like and eventually find a healthy balance themselves."

While this is true for us, we ultimately leave the decision of amount of tv time to the kids, this simple explanation leaves out an important component of the equation. Yes, Josh (8y) does watch as much tv as he likes. Yes, he has chosen himself to find a balance. But in between point A and point B there is a lot of coaching, counseling, and guidance on my part.

The simple explanation above can sound like parents don't intervene at all. It doesn't address the fact that screen time can be addictive and has effects on the brain.

While I won't tell Josh he has to turn off the tv, I will make suggests of other things we could do once his program is over. I will make observations of how long he has been watching tv, without judgment. When his attitude is being affected, I will again make statements of observation. I will explain how screen time can affect him. When his eyes hurt or he has a headache, I will talk with him about how it could be a result of how much time he's spent watching tv. I will give him my opinion if I think his amount of screen time is negatively affecting him.

Children inherently want to do what is best for themselves, but sometimes they need help connecting the dots of cause and effect. This is where the guidance comes in. I don't make it into a power struggle. I leave the decision of how he will spend his time up to him. But I am there for guidance.

Eventually he did start to recognize himself when he'd had enough screen time. Just the other day he was playing a game on the phone and said, "My eyes are starting to hurt. I think I've been watching too much tv. I'm going to turn it off now." I don't know if or when he would have gotten to this point if I had never said anything to him though.

No comments:

Post a Comment