Limiting technology and screen time isn’t a parent’s responsibility. Vague and seemingly random rules about when technology can and can’t be used do not help our children. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our kids that they are in full control of their time and to help them understand why too much technology and screen time can be detrimental.
Several friends of mine recently shared an article by another homeschooling/home educating mother on Facebook. This article, titled Reasons Today’s Kids are Bored at School, Feel Entitled, Have Little Patience & Few Real Friends, is a fascinating read and worth the time. I agree with quite a few things the author says that children today need more attention and time with their parents, less technology and screen time and need to understand the concept of delayed gratification. What I don’t agree with is how she places the responsibility of all of this squarely on the parents.
Natural Consequences to too Much Screen Time
I am a firm believer in the concept of natural consequences. The author of this article pushes all the responsibility on to the parents to limit this and limit that but doesn’t give parents tools to help children learn to self-limit, which is really what is needed. Eventually, these kids will not have people around telling them not to do this and not to do that, and they will not be equipped with the ability to self-limit technology and screen time and manage their own time appropriately. As a mother of two, I am a firm believer in making sure that children understand the natural consequences of their actions. Much like adults if they don’t go to bed at a reasonable time and stay up until 3 am binge-watching Netflix or playing games they’re going to be dragging the next day. That’s their issue to resolve. Didn’t help with the laundry? You may not have clean clothes. Aren’t helping straighten up after dinner? We may not have time to play a game as a family because it’s going to take that much longer to straighten up and we may run out of time, etc…
Kids Don’t Need Made-Up Punishments
I think all too often parents spend a lot of time making up punishments when the natural consequences of the child’s actions are punishment enough. The job of parents then becomes to remind those children that they alone are responsible for the outcomes of their actions. If they don’t practice their sport, they don’t get better. If they don’t study, they don’t get good grades. Simple as that. All too often kids feel like they have no control over their lives because parents are determining the rules, limiting this, limiting that. I strongly advocate for a parenting modality where the children do have control, with that control comes responsibility and the acceptance of the outcomes of their actions.
The Kids ARE in Control
I’m certainly not saying give children everything they ask for when they ask for it, or not to encourage them to practice, study hard, engage with others, play outside, etc… Engaging with our children in this way is an integral part of our role as parents, but when they fail at something because they didn’t practice or put in the time. As parents, we need to remind children that they were/are in control of that outcome and encouraged to change their behavior next time to prevent it from happening again.
As the parent of two teenagers, I am seeing this parenting idea that we’ve been practicing for ages paying off. They are two extremely responsible and studious kids who surprise me by doing things like folding laundry without being asked, doing the dishes and sorting the mail. Yes, they are on their devices quite frequently, but they self-regulate technology and screen time exceptionally well and don’t always go right to a device in their free time. They sew, draw, write and hang out with friends as well. Having said this, our kids have nights when they stay up way too late and have trouble functioning the next morning, but they realize that they are responsible for that and accept that consequence.
Whether this idea of teaching natural consequences and making children responsible for their actions will work for everyone, I’m not sure but, so far, it’s worked for us.