I’ve noticed there’s a debate in the homeschool community on screen time. Do we reduce it? Do we not? Do we let the kids go full force in tech? Or do we let them dabble until we’re ready to let go of the reins?
I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the answer is. In our home, screen time is limited. However, I also know that my boy uses screens way more than his sisters did simply for my sanity.
My kids don’t have computers, but they do have tablets. Our video game system includes an old Wii and a few Nintendo DS’s. We dabble. But, I do worry about the kid’s screen time.
So, what is the answer? Who knows! I feel we are all just trying out this parenting thing and hoping we don’t mess up right? That is why I’m sharing three tips for reducing screen time in your homeschool, but I’m also sharing two reasons NOT to. Because on this one I just can’t make up my mind!
Copyright: highwaystarz / 123RF Stock Photo
Tips for Reducing Screen Time
So, you’ve made the decision to reduce screen time in your home. Great! Here are a few ways to implement better limits on screen time.
Make Them Earn It
This is the way we run things in our home. The kids can have screen time after they complete chores. So, they have their daily chores, then they have additional chores that they get paid to do. They can opt for cash or 30 minutes of screen time. We do not count family movie nights as earned screen time.
No Screens in the Bedroom
This one is a big one in our home. Screens are only allowed in the open area of the house. I do make an exception for school time (we use Teaching Textbooks that requires a computer). By making the screens stay in an open area of the house you are able to see how often the kids are on their screens. This also makes it a lot harder to be looking at things they aren’t supposed to be looking at. And yes, this includes TV.
Be an Example
Want your kids to be on their screens less? Model it. This is a hard pill to swallow. I rarely watch tv, and my laptop stays at my desk after work hours, but my phone? Yea…it’s with me ALL the time, and SO easy to check.
Our kids can call us on this guys. Why are we telling them to limit the screens when we have access to one 24/7? A few ways to limit our own screen time is to keep the phone OUT of the school room or area. Show that school is the MOST important thing, not checking social media in between English lessons.
Another idea is to make the dinner table a no screen zone for EVERYONE, not just the kids. Model the behavior you want your kids to show, and they will have a wonderful example to follow.
Reasons NOT to Reduce Screen Time
Now, let’s play devil’s advocate here and discuss some reasons NOT to reduce screen time. You see, those screens are not ALWAYS a bad thing!
We Live in a Different World
Our kids are growing up with the world at their fingertips. Literally. What are we going to do about it? Limit it? Tell them no? If so, then at what point are they going to learn to manage their own screen time? At what point are they going to be able to explore freely and decide what is appropriate and what is not?
My friend Amy at the HMMM schooling mom wrote an excellent post about this and I think she explains it well.
When my kids are allowed to explore freely, they are able to find the things that I don’t even know are out there to help them do the things they want to do.
Screen Time Isn’t Always a Waste
There are SO many educational apps, tv shows and games out there. This keeps kids learning ALL the time. However, sometimes those things we consider “fluff” can help our kids learn too. It can also just be the down time our kids need. Their minds work differently than ours do, and for us down time may be a book, but for them, it may be Mario Brothers…. Who are we to tell our kids how to learn? Or how to unwind?
The bottom line is we as parents have to find the right answer for us. I feel as homeschoolers we have WAY more control over our kid’s screen time than most. However, we also have our kids around ALL DAY LONG. And, let’s face it, sometimes we are guilty of using the screen as a babysitter.
The answer on screen time isn’t black or white. It’s a gray area that each family needs to make for themselves. Whether it’s one hour a day, unlimited time a day, or a back and forth, the answer for YOUR family is the right one.
So, let’s not judge another homeschoolers take on screen time. We are all just doing the best we can!
Misty Bailey planned on being a public school teacher, not a work at home, homeschool mom to three. But in 2009 God changed her plans! She now LOVES helping and encouraging new homeschoolers and sharing everyday tips and encouragement on her blog Joy in the Journey.