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Putting My Foot Down on Electronics

Author: Jessica Woolwine
Published Date: Tuesday, November 01, 2016

When I was a kid, all we had was TV and a Nintendo console. I grew up in the 1980s: the age of Care Bears, Donkey Kong and G.I. Joe.

But even with all that awesomeness to keep us busy, TV and video games weren’t the go-to method of fun.

When free time found my brother and I, we went outside, jumped on our bikes, found a friend and played until the streetlights came on. If someone wasn’t playing nicely, I’d go inside and up to my room to play there. Not with my personal computer. Not on my iPad. I didn’t turn on my Kindle Fire to read. I played with actual toys, or I opened up a real book.

Today’s kids live in a different world. Things are different than they were 30 years ago.

Parents in 2016 think twice before letting kids play outside or walk to the park with their friends. News reports remind us daily that predators live close, and we can even look them up on a website. Facebook “likes” show us how the world is judging our decisions.

Every mom or dad I know has struggled to find a healthy balance when it comes to the use of technology. I can use electronics if I need to tell the time, track a run, watch a video, read a book, stream a show or send a text. The same opportunities are available for my three kids.

Just this week, I’ve found myself wondering:

  • At what age should a child get their first cell phone?
  • Should I take the computer out of Jackson’s room?
  • What YouTube channels are kid-friendly?
  • How do I prevent my 4-year-old from seeing political ads and saying, “I am Donald Trump and I approved this message” when we’re out to dinner? (Yes, this happened.)
  • Will my kids need glasses because they use electronics so much?

Honestly, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I’m not an expert at this stuff … I’m just winging it most days. I will share with you my latest rule: absolutely no handheld electronics during the school week. Though my kids were very annoyed when I put it in place last month, it has proven priceless since I began enforcing it.

With this new rule, we removed a major daily obstacle I didn’t even realize was causing me to be irritated. Now, I’m not trying to get them off an iPhone or Kindle just to put their clean laundry away. Homework is completed without rushing. I don’t have to call them to dinner 10 times. Chores get done. It’s like someone hit the mute button, and the static in our lives went away.

I’ve done a lot of trial and error in this parenting business, but on this particular rule, I won’t ever go back. Try it for a week and see for yourself.

What rules do you have in place for your child’s electronics? What works for your family?

Resources:

Media Guidelines from the AAP

About Jessica Woolwine

Jessica Woolwine is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (9), Abby (5) and Henry (1). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.