Screens and kiddos is a topic that gets plenty of strong opinions on what you should and shouldn’t do. Bring it up in a Facebook group you belong to and look out!
“Kids should only have 30 minutes of screens a day!”
“Tweenagers should not be allowed on social media because of cyber bullying!”
“Kids should have a phone to be able to contact an adult at all times for safety reasons!”
The “experts” say some pretty scary things about the brain and screens. According to them, screens are an area where we can really mess with our littles brain and the ability to focus.
From what I’ve read, more research needs to be done to support statements that some of them make. So, read and learn with an open mind but make your own decisions in the end.
Make Your Screens Rules
No matter who you choose to listen to, don’t do what I did and hand over devices to them without some rules. Kids need expectations to meet. Decide what is acceptable or unacceptable and let them know that.
My total miss can help you have one of your hits if you create some guidelines using the questions below to get you started and make a technology contract! (You can scroll to the bottom and sign-up to get a pre-made version from me for free with fill in the blanks.)
Screens Time Limits
Am I right in thinking we can all get on board that our kids can turn into zombies with too much screen time?!
This certainly happens to my kids. They can get into their video game or working on a Musical.ly and zone everything else out. Try to take it away and you might lose a hand!
Setting limits for moderation in anything is a smart idea! I would really love to eat an entire pan of brookies in one sitting but, we both know that’s not good for me in the end. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to taste wonderful in the moment!)
So, out of all the opinions and research, make some decisions using the questions below to get you started.
1. Are you going to set limits that are different depending on the day of the week?
2. Are you going to have your kiddo earn the screen time they get as a reward for getting something done?
3. Are they only allowed to have screen time when they complete certain responsibilities?
Social Media Usage
Social Media is the scariest one of all for me. There are predators and bullies whose sole purpose is to hurt your child.
What if your kid is the one who resorts to bullying or posting inappropriate things?! The choices they make can follow them the rest of their lives.
So, do some soul searching about social media and use the following questions to help you make some decisions:
1. What apps are allowed? Facebook? Musical.ly? Snap Chat? Instagram?
2. Who are they allowed to “friend” in the apps?
a. Do you have to have met the friend or have them prove they are from school if you don’t?
b. Are you a mandatory friend in their list?
3. What is appropriate behavior when using the app?
a. What topics can they discuss?
b. What topics aren’t allowed?
c. Can they post their picture? How about a picture of them in a swimming suit?
d. Can they “check in” somewhere if they aren’t with you? (safety question)
Ugh texting. I love it for me and I hate it for my kid. I know that my friends aren’t going to start a fight in a text message with me. I know that we aren’t going to bully each other in a group text.
I cannot promise any of that when it comes to my kids and their friends. What I can do is come up with some guidelines to try and protect them from that behavior as much as I can.
1. Who can they text? Along the same lines with “friending” on social media, do you need to know them?
2. What are they allowed to talk about in a text?
3. What do you consider inappropriate to discuss in a text?
4. What can they send in a text? Pictures of themselves? Memes? Videos?
5. What are off limits to sending?
6. Are there certain times a day you feel it’s appropriate to text or a time limit on texting?
Make the Technology Contract
Draw up a contract based on all of the guidelines you’ve decided by going through the questions above. Make it very clear, concise and with specific consequences for breaking the rules.
Going the contract route helps everyone on the same page as to what the expectations are so there are no questions.
When they fail, you can keep emotions out and grab the contract. Calmly review what the expectations are they agreed to follow and have them refer back to what the consequence is for breaking the rule.
Monitor the bejesus out of them!
You’ve gone through expectations with your kiddos. They have a clear picture of what’s expected and the consequences for breaking the rules.
We know our life is not a Disney movie where we are starring as a princess. That contract didn’t get signed with magical fairy dust that makes our kids become perfect angels sent to us from heaven. The reality is, our kids are just like we were and they are going to think they are smarter than us and get a way around the system.
You be one step ahead and monitor everything you have allowed them privileges to and let them know you are watching!
Keep Their Passwords
You tell them that you have to have the current password to everything that they use. Let them know that you are going to be logging in and seeing everything that they do whenever you want.
*I am not paid to endorse this app. I’m sharing because I love it and will make a small commission if you decide to love it too!
Make monitoring easy and install a monitoring app on their devices. The one that I use and love is Qustodio. Get their basic package on one device for free. You can upgrade to premium and protect 5 devices for only $4.98 a month.
An activity report is sent to you in an email daily and you can also install the app on your own phone to view the dashboard.
You’ll get to set screen limits for all devices. You can set the times of day they can use their screens and set it up by the day of week too. Default suggestions to get you started!
You can block their access to websites based on the default filters as well as block your own list if you’d like.
You’ll be able to monitor certain social media accounts and text messaging!
Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think. I’m always up for a try-before-you-buy option that helps this tired momma manage her life better.