Why I Let My Kids Set Their Own Screen Time Limits

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As much as I am well aware of the addiction of technology with the teenagers I teach I do not have screen time limits with my own children.  Yet rather than worry about their screen time I worry more that they’ll  feel overwhelmed and stressed with the hectic busy schedules they keep with school, HOMEWORK, activities, and daily chores.

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They are kids that do well in school, that know as soon as they walk in the door it’s homework, making their lunches for the next day, and tackling whatever the daily chore is. Sometimes this is a mad rush to complete before leaving for an evening activity.

If there are no after school activities their usual choice of free time is playing outside with the neighbors. Their weekends are typically full with family things. They are busy; probably too busy.

So when my kids decide they just need a break and want to sit in front of a screen I honestly let them with no guilt. I don’t watch the clock to see how long they’ve been on the screen. Most times it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly long but even if they decide to do it most of the day I feel THEY DESERVE THE ESCAPE from the daily grind of life as much as I do.

That’s what technology and screen time is to me and in our house. It’s an escape. It’s a chance to set aside life’s stresses and must dos. Whether I’m binge watching a show, scrolling Facebook, or even using my screen to write it’s my escape.

Their shows and video games are an escape for them from stressing about upcoming state standardized tests or upcoming soccer tryouts. They need the escape from life’s pressures and stresses just as much as I do.  My daughter busts her little butt at home, school, and on the ball field so if she wants to watch TV or play games on the screen all day then honestly good for her for giving herself a much needed break.

Like anything in life though I get that there needs to be balance.  Because technology is such a huge part of our daily lives at work and home I feel it’s important for them to learn as soon as possible how to manage balancing it themselves. If they learn now how to self regulate, hopefully they won’t feel the need to be on it nonstop at school when they’re teenagers because they see it as the only time they can get on it without “mom’s screen limits” being enforced.

Technology is not going anywhere for our kids and they have to learn how to have a healthy relationship with it. I think it’s important for them to learn to set their own limits.

As an adult I don’t have anyone telling me when or how much I should be on my screen. I often tell my students, adults struggle just as much as they do with self regulating their exposure to screens. I frequently tell my students “if it’s out of sight it is more likely to be out of mind”. It’s important for anyone, no matter their age, to learn how and when to step away from the screen to give themselves a break. Children have to learn when to use it and not let it consume them.

Often children and adults aren’t aware of how much they are truly on their screens. So if children, and adults too, struggle with regulating their own screen limits keeping a log of time spent on technology verse other activities would provide self assessment of their own exposure and open discussion of what a reasonable amount of screen time looks like. It’s also a good way to see what other personal interests they have.

One of the biggest reasons I don’t feel my own children need screen limits is because I know they have so many other interests and interactions besides the screen. Rather than establishing screen limits there needs to be an expectation of other things in our homes.

CHORES and involvement in school activities exposes them to other interests and responsibilities besides the screen. With a multitude of things they are expected to do and a variety of interests to pursue other than what the screen provides, children can hopefully learn the importance of self regulating their own screen time.

As long as my children are not CONSUMED BY THE SCREEN they will be allowed to set their own limits.  I refuse to worry about all the different ways the internet warns me I’m possibly screwing up my kids. I think they’re turning out just fine even without screen limits placed on them at home.

If you’re interested in reading how one mom thinks you MUST set screen time limits, check out this post HERE.

1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting read. I see where you’re coming from, but I’m of the mind that setting some limitations are healthy. It doesnt have to be mean or even feel like a rule. Getting them involved in an extracurricular activity is a form of limitation to the screen, imo.

    The best way kids learn, however, is through observing those around them. If you limit yourself and show interest outside of the screen, they will begin to value those things too. If screentime is your only go to, it will probably be theirs as well.

    Just my two cents.

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