Gaming and social networking are an integral part of family life now. It’s normal and acceptable for the kids to be spending a lot of their time at home online and messaging etc.
However, in order for that to remain healthily in proportion to other pursuits we perhaps need some input into steering their attention elsewhere sometimes.
Screen based pursuits are very attractive, but remember they’re addictive too. Addictive to us all – increasingly so, and that’s an addiction many of us haven’t noticed let alone given much thought to managing.
It’s a good idea to review what’s going on in your household and establish some principles whilst kids are young which will need regular updating as they grow. We’re never going to eradicate the moans and challenges the teens will present, but we do have to ignore their resistance and remain strong to show them the way.
So five tips that might help manage healthy screen habits in your house might be to:
- First and foremost review your own screen habits! The biggest influence on your kids is how you behave. Are your habits the healthy ones you want reflected in your kids? Is all your free time spent staring at a phone or tablet, or are there times for conversation and family interaction in your house?
- Think out beforehand what principles are important to you and your family. Things like; what you think healthy amounts of game time are, should we respond to messages during family conversations/meals/etc. Why not? A simple thing to practice; not responding to notifications straight away.
- Discuss this with the kids. A good one to ask the older ones is how they’ll parent their own kids with relation to gaming time, surfing/shopping, interrupting texts and messages, etc. There’s nothing worse than wanting someone’s attention only to have it constantly intruded upon. Keep these dialogues open as things change. Engage with their games, show an interest in who they’re texting, share what you’re doing on your phone. You have to abide by rules too.
- Find some regular activities, especially out the house, that’ll interest everyone and provide alternatives. The kids could do some research on this too. Make sure they’re getting enough of your time to do things together. Kids grow so quick – you can miss it whilst everyone’s on screen.
- Above all be consistent. If you’ve set rules you’ve all decided upon you should not waver in the face of opposition, except under extreme circumstances. Tough, it’s true, but worth it in the long run to establish family respect – and love – for one another. You can’t get that online!