Lately I have felt like our kids were out of control. They were not listening, clearly disobeying and we spent more time yelling than giving kind words. Last Friday something snapped. I had had enough and it was time for changes, big changes.
Our kids, like most these days, have all of the “gadgets”. Between the three of them they have 2 iPads, 2 televisions with Roku boxes and DVD players, 1 Chromebook, 2 Nintendo DS’s, and 1 Xbox. These kids have more technology in their hands daily than I ever had until I was well into adulthood. That being said, they were constantly looking at a screen of some kind. I know what your thinking, set some rules with all of this tech. Well, we did. The typical limits on how long you can watch, what you can watch, when you can and can’t watch etc. But guess what, we’ve been busy and we got lazy.
Yep, parents get lazy. We’re tired, we’re busy and sometimes we just want something to entertain the kids so we don’t have to. I never thought I’d say that, I’ve been using “screen time” to babysit my kids. They were quiet, I was happy…or at least I thought.
Like I said earlier, their behavior was out of control. I wish I had caught on to this sooner, I wish I had seen the signs earlier, the more screen time my kids had, the more disobedient they became. They were talking back, not listening, just plain disobeying. Yes, I know all kids do these things but we had reached an all time high. I was fed up.
The light came on as I was driving home from work on Friday. I called my husband and told him to go to the kid’s rooms and take away all of their electronic devices. ALL TECHNOLOGY! I have taken away electronics before but it was always as a punishment. You bring home a bad grade, you lose your TV. You refuse to clean your room, you lose your TV until the room is clean. Things like this. This was the first time we had taken away the electronics with absolutely nothing attached to it. We gave them no way to “earn” them back, no timeline as to when they will get them back.
I will be honest, I was dreading the weekend. I was sure they would drive me crazy, begging to get their stuff back, and they did for a while, then they stopped. I think they could see that we were serious this time, we were not backing down. No amount of begging would allow them to have their stuff, it would only strengthen our resolve.
Guess what, we had the best weekend we have had in a long time. The kids played with toys they had not played with in months. They played games with each other, they fought much less and they listened more. To top it off, they started helping out around the house a bit (tiny bit) more.
We have now been without the tech for 5 days. The only place they can watch TV is in the family room with us, that is if we even have it on. We have watched baseball as a family and had discussions about the game and players. We’ve watched documentaries and had discussions about those. We even played a few rounds of UNO tonight.
All in all, I can say that I’ve always heard that screen time has a negative effect on kids behavior but I never put much stock in it. However, I have now seen the proof in my own kids. Their behavior has improved in just 5 days. No, they are not perfect. They are still kids. They still fight, they still push their limits, they still try to push my buttons but it’s different. I feel like we are gaining ground.
I don’t know when we will give them any of their electronics back but I do know that when we do, their time allowed on it will be VERY LIMITED.