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."
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
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.