How to Tackle Screen Time

March 5, 2021

The March holidays are just around the corner, but with fewer options for overseas travel or extra-curricular activities, some parents may be worried about how to keep their kids active, engaged, and entertained.

The holidays are a time for rest and fun, but what if your child’s definition of “fun” comprises more screen time, video games, or device usage than you approve of?

If you feel like you’ve tried everything to get your kids’ screen time under control but nothing seems to help, you are not alone! The good news is: you don’t have to keep nagging or fighting about this. In today’s blog post, we hope to offer you and your child a win-win solution to screen time.

Tip 1: Start with a positive mindset

This is not a battle of wills. It’s not Parent vs. Child, it’s not Homework vs. Youtube!

Reframe how you see this problem: you and your child are on the same team, working together to find the best-fit solution. It might seem too good to be true, but have faith! There is a way to ensure that your child is healthy and disciplined, while allowing them to be social, entertained, and relaxed.

Your priorities and your child’s priorities are both important. They’re not in competition with one another. Think of them as complementary jigsaw puzzle pieces: when you combine them in the right way, they fit together to form a win-win solution!

Tip 2: Begin the conversation with curiousity

Pop quiz!

What is your child’s favourite Youtube channel? How long is a typical video they watch? How frequently does this Youtuber post videos: daily, weekly, monthly?

When your child is on their phone, what app(s) are they using? If it’s a game, are they playing with their friends, or by themselves? How do they earn points or level up in that game?

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Now you might be thinking: why are you asking me these questions?! The “real” problem remains that their devices are distracting them from their schoolwork.

Here’s why Bramble encourages a curiosity-first approach: it takes understanding your child’s preferences, feelings, motivations, and desires in order to find a solution that actually works for them.

In the absence of this genuine understanding, you’ll probably end up suggesting solutions that don’t meet their needs, making it hard for them to comply and exasperating for you to enforce!

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For example, learning that 1 episode of their favourite show usually lasts 25 minutes could allow you to work out a homework-and-TV schedule that doesn’t disrupt an episode.

Or, you might discover that their favourite computer game is actually a team competition, which is why they don’t want to stop once their friends are online. They want to be included by their friends and active on their team!

Seeing your child’s priorities allows you to brainstorm creative solutions that actually work for them. The key to this is beginning with curiosity.

Tip 3: When brainstorming, start with a clean slate

The purpose of understanding your child’s point of view is not to find new ways to twist their needs and make them fit into your ideal solution. After discovering their thoughts and feelings, don’t try to persuade your kids that your suggestion does in fact meet their needs, if only they changed their perspective.

(A.k.a. Do not say, “I now see why your game is important to you, so... all the more should you finish your dinner faster so you can use your computer earlier!” In this scenario, you’re still trying to convince them that the best way to do things is in the order you’d like things to be done.)

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Think outside the box, don’t be held back by your previous solutions!

Start from scratch. In fact, allow your child to make the first suggestion. If they could write their own schedule, or if they could change something about their situation, what would they do?

Phew!

Mummies, daddies, let’s take a deep breath in and out together.

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Screen time is a fraught issue in many households, and for many families, finding your personal win-win solution will take trial, error, hugs, and time. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but we hope that the tips we’ve offered will allow you to take an empathetic and understanding approach to solving your problem collaboratively.

Do you have any questions about the tips we wrote above, or thoughts about how they might play out for you? Which of these tips are you going to try today?