I’m all ears when people share their thoughts on screentime. From those where nothing is off limits. They’re happy to let their children roam the net and spend as much time as they want on screens, to the “we never allow screens”, of course, those are the extremes, most of us are probably somewhere in between.
Everyone has their own way of doing it, but I just wanted to put some thoughts out there.
When our kids are little munchkins and we’re the most important people in their lives, it’s easy to control their screentime. But fast forward to teenage years and it’s a whole different ballgame.
One of the most important things for a thriving teenager to have is good human connections. When they find their tribe of friends, they’ll adapt their habits/personalities to be accepted by them. This could mean their friends are on Snapchat or play Fortnite or other things that might not be a parents first choice. Of course you can ban it, but the danger of that is they can still seek it out it and do it anyway. And then when something bad happens they won’t/can’t tell you because they weren’t supposed to be doing it in the first place!
Giving your child responsibility inevitably means they will make mistakes, but if you are there to support them when they do, you can help develop their resilience and their ability to bounce back after failure by making it seem a temporary thing and not something which is going to ruin their life. Learning to be resilient means they will have to have to face and discuss often scary and difficult things and learn to make their own judgements. Sometimes they’ll make mistakes but that’s how they learn. Be a safety net parent who develops your child’s resilience and is there to pick up the pieces, not a helicopter parent who never allows your child to learn.
Empowering your children to learn a healthy screentime balance, just like you would a healthy food diet, seems to make the most sense. Hopefully then, when they hit those teenage years, they’ll have the skills and ability to navigate the digital landscape with responsibility and confidence.
Amanda Bucknall is founder of TimeTokens