This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.
Screen Time… that hotly debating topic of the parenting world. For those of you that know a little more about Red Ted HQ, you will know, that at present, my kids get to have movie night – one night per week and THAT IS IT. Well, that it is, when it comes TV – i.e. the most “traditional form” of screen time. They however, love to check out YouTube, are forever browsing my Instagram account and in moments of mayhem or extreme boredom, I do “let them have a go” at games app on my smart phone.
The “unofficial” screen time of my two used to be worse when they were younger. I basically used screen time as a crutch or a babysitter when I needed 10 minutes to GET SOMETHING DONE. The problem with “just 10 minutes”, is that “just 10 minutes” quickly turned into 30 or even 40 minutes. It is ok, I told myself, they are all educational apps or story telling apps. It isn’t bad for them.. oh that parental trap of KIDDING YOURSELF.
Screen time is screen time. End of. 10 minutes is never ever 10 minutes.
As a modern parent, I am TOTALLY paranoid about my kids turning into TV Zombies. I am paranoid that they will get hooked on computer games, never to resurface again. I panic about it and I respond to it in the only way I know how: NO SCREEN TIME AT ALL.
Kids NEED Screen Time (YES, a controversial statement)
However, no screen time at all, isn’t the best solution either. I know it isn’t. We live in a modern world. This is why I think some screen time is important:
Reason 1: Don’t be a hypocrite.
MY work life is all screen time. How can I be a hypocrite, who uses Facebook, Pinterest, G+, Instagram and twitter ALL THE TIME for “my work” and not allow my kids online? My children see my husband and I doing screen time ALL the time. Either, I stop when I am around them, or I allow them some time as well. And if I am being REALLY honest, no, I can’t stop.
Reason 2: Fitting in.
Also, I understand the need for my kids to “fit in”, on some level, I think it is important that they are familiar with the latest games and films and programs that their peers talk about. I don’t think they have to BRILLIANT at mine craft, or know all the latest episodes of the latest program, but I do think it is good to have a go occasionally and know what programs are about, so you can join in with conversation (I speak from experience, not having owned a TV for 3 years, it was surprising how “put off” others were by you! Fine, when I make that choice as an adult, different, when you are a child and much more susceptible to peer pressure).
Reason 3: Learning to manage your own time.
By never allowing them screen time now, does that mean, my kids will never learn how to handle screen time for themselves as they get older and this “O.D. on it”, once they get to control their own screen time? Will I turn them into those computer game zombies, simply by not letting them get it out of their system now? And there will come a time, when I have gone to bed and my kids will still be awake doing “goodness knows what”…
Reason 4: Computer literacy for school work.
As they grow older, they will increasingly NEED to use computers and tablets to get their homework done. My 7 yrs already knows how to “navigate google” in order to look something up. He needs to be computer literate and know his way around technology. At the tender age of 7, he is already writing little stories on the ipad. I think it gives him the confidence that he can focus on the story, rather than worry about how legible his writing is or whether is spelling is correct. Please note – he DOES do a lot of hand written work too, as I am aware that he needs to practice his handwriting and spelling and that spell checker on the ipad will only make him lazy!!!
Reason 5: Being comfortable with parental internet safety controls.
I have been burying my head in the sand about this for many many months – internet safety! I am not YET worried about the horrors of online grooming (my kids are not allowed on social media sites..). I am more worried about my kids accidently downloading viruses, buying things on Amazon (our payment is automated) or seeing things “by accident” (particularly easy to happen on YouTube). As my children’s screen time activity grows and becomes more complex, my knowledge as a parent needs to grow with them. If we take baby steps together now, we can manage bigger issues and problem later together too.
In short – I can’t realistic stop my kids form having screen time.
But I can manage it. Like everything “in the right amount” will do you no harm. This were apps such as OurPact come into it. OurPact is one way of managing and monitoring my kids screen time (you can get it for FREE on iTunes).
The most “basic” but most important feature of this app is that you can set a TIME LIMIT. Yes, this really is basic feature that you all need – the child and you can discuss and agree on a structured approach to using screen time. It can be linked to rewards or times of “need” (e.g. when you need to feed or change the baby or have a piece of work to finish). This of course, what I (!) need most out of this app. Especially, as I have a tendency to overrun as I get distracted.
Oh and the timer.. also gives the child a warning that they are coming to the end of their screen time – this is something HUGELY important in our household and applies to most things we do “Kids, bedtime in 10min” or “our playdate is over in 20min, make sure you guys finish your games if you can” etc. It means that the end of what they are enjoying doesn’t happen abruptly and they can adjust to it.
The other feature we like, is that you can *cough* sneakily (did I just say that word) extend or shorten that time remotely from your own device – i.e. OurPact works best if you download the app to your phone, but restrict your child’s screen time on another device. Say, you REALLY NEED an extra 5 minutes on that call or you have just had a massive poo disaster when changing the baby.. you can calmly extend the time and finish off what you need get done.
A great handy little app! Fabulous.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.