If you, like me, are in week 3+ of having your kids home, chances are you may be about to pull your hair out over the number of hours you see their faces are staring at a screen (currently under our roof are 14, 17, 22, and 26, which is double the norm for us).
And, if you’ve got tweens or teens, you’re likely repeating yourself at least three times before getting any kind of response because their AirPods are in (all.the.time) and you keep forgetting that fact before you begin talking to them.
Ah the joys of pioneer parenting through a pandemic!
All kidding aside, as the weeks wear on you will want to have a solid game plan for your family’s digital wellness. Now is this time to get clear with yourself, your co-parent/partner/spouse and then call a family meeting to work through how you’ll be handling setting intentional time away from screens. They say you preach what you most need to learn so I am writing this as much for my benefit as for yours, I promise.
Some moms and dads will take the old-fashioned route by parenting over their kids and setting all the rules with an iron fist because, “I pay for the phone”…which may get them what they want in the short-term, but will do nothing to build relationship with their kids for the longterm. Some parents will decide to throw up their hands and say, “What’s done is done, how am I going to limit screen time now that they’ve had full reign for months (or years), I can’t possibly change it now.” To which I respond by waving the BS flag.
I believe there is a middle ground, one that will build structure for your kids while also building connection in your home. The greatest obstacle for most parents is…how well do you handle your child’s eyerolls, pouting, pleading and uncomfortable feelings?
Because that’s what we’ve got to do in order to establish kind and firm, safe and consistent boundaries with our family around screen time. We’ve got to be kind by taking our kids thoughts and feelings into consideration when creating the plan. This is the way they communicate with their friends to a large degree, and really the only option they’ve got at the moment, right?
We’ve got to be firm, meaning we [the parents] need to know what our non-negotiables are. For example, at our house it’s no phones in the bedrooms after 10 p.m. period. We’ve got to educate ourselves and our kids on Internet and social media safety, AND (all caps for emphasis, because this is the toughest part), we’ve got to be consistent in keeping the rules we negotiate with our kids and set up as the family gospel, that means we’ve got to calmly deal with their uncomfortable feelings.
Wait…I remember one additional EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THING…we’ve got to model what we expect.
I recently had the opportunity to get to know a guy you might very well like to call…someone who can help you navigate the screen boundaries in a single visit…someone who can be an outside adult voice to gently but firmly explain why screen time needs limits.
Adam Fitzgerald, a Flower Mound resident and owner of Screen Time Pros, spends his days helping parents institute digital wellness in their homes by installing services such as Apple Screen Time and Disney Circle.
Adam has been an IT consultant for more than 25 years, supporting individuals, small to medium-sized businesses and several corporate enterprise environments. In addition, he has 10+ years of managing healthcare and banking data bound to HIPAA/ePHI/PCI rules, regulations and auditing.
Earlier this year Adam made the decision to focus 100% of his time and effort on Screen Time Pros with one goal in mind, to help parents make sense of all of the technology used in their homes, leverage parental controls, and configure them in a way to become the best digital parents, ever!
Adam and his wife Diana are co-parenting his two preteen daughters and have been able to create a positive digital environment in both the girl’s homes. He is both sensitive and knowledgeable in helping blended families navigate this issue.
When I asked Adam who his ideal client is, he said, “Any household with kids who have tech, the younger the better, in order to establish good habits early. I can set up profiles for each child and each device.”
I have a feeling Adam is going to be very busy once we’re out of lockdown. You can learn more about his services at www.screentimepros.com or call him at 817-312-4771.
None of us wants our kids to be brain numb by the time this thing is over so get clear, get on the same page, and get those rules in place by sitting down with your kids and talking it through today!