There is a battle between generations... There is this ongoing fight between us that makes me exhausted and I'm not sure this fight is never to be won. By either one of us... It is the battle about screen time...
We had a family meeting about screen time and made some drastic changes. It was not a pleasant meeting. There were some raised voices, almost tears, but overall I think we handled it very well. We don't often have family meetings like this, but this felt like an urgent topic to deal with and before going down the road of TAKING IT ALL AWAY in pure frustration, we made the decision to discuss it as a family. The goal was to not put shame, anger or bad feelings into this subject and instead we discussed how we use screens, what we surf for, why we want it and how we feel about it. I know! It sounds so... I can't really find the word... noble??? Correct? Perfect? Well, let me tell you this, I'm far from perfect but I'm proud of the conversation we had and I think we managed it all very well. Everyone got involved. Everyone had their voice heard.
It was painful to face the evil in our small and big devices, and to face the pain of having to put them aside, obeying to a new schedule we all agreed upon. After a couple of weeks of limited use I can already see the tremendous benefits of taking new action. It warms my heart. Luca Bo practices flips and tricks on the trampoline and spends hours on his skateboard, Emmy Bo makes street art, Fimo clay figures and explores new skipping rope and mono cycle techniques. Nelly Bo is being a little bit more present in family life (although her room and her friends are on top of her list above EVERYTHING else of where she prefers to be at age 15. And hanging out with us parents and siblings are probably at the very far bottom or even underground... twink...). So what does our new screen time schedule look like? Well, it isn't set in stone. But it is a guide line.
Week days: 1 hour, no screens after dinner.
Weekends: 1-3 hours, no screens in afternoons.
Devices (Luca Bo's and Emmy Bo's) are turned into charging station after dinner time to eliminate the temptation of use...
Our framework looks different for each individual in the family as we all are in different ages. Nelly Bo, who is 15, socialize a lot on her phone and for as long as she has a balance of being active, socializing in real life and staying on top of house chores and school work, she is controlling her use herself. And if not, we step in and take it away for a while to "reset" the mindset. Because that is the goal, right? It is our new generation, brought up with screens, living "in" screens and communicating with screens. We all just need to learn how to use them in a balanced way so we don't loose out on real life and turn into isolated couch potatoes. And you know what, it actually really works.
There are more humming and singing and just general happy noise around the house nowadays and we sleep deeper and better. There are less arguments about screen time and more time of playing outside, in our rooms and being together. Overall I feel we have found a good balance now. I just hope we can stick to it. That real life will continue to be the first choice instead of the computers.
I have, personally, taken a big step back spending time online (which you might have noticed over here and in my IG feed...) for different reasons, and it feels really good to be more present in life and get real things done instead of falling deep into the rabbit hole of social media apps... You know what I'm saying, right? It is not just our kids that has a hard time to control their screen time use...
Let me just round up with a little story from my past. A few years ago, before I owned a smart phone, I asked my younger brother who had an iPhone4 at the time if he thought I should get one, for my blogging and so... I had heard about Instagram and wanted to join the community so bad... He just looked at me and said: "If you don't need one, I wouldn't get one. It will BURN in your pocket and create needs you never had before." And it certainly did... But I have also had lots of fun. Life online is not only evil, we just have to find the balance of how we use it. I want to be in charge of my online life, I want my children to be in charge of their online life. I don't want the gadgets and devices to control us... that is my point. And with that I sign off today. Time for some crochet in the garden. Without my phone.
Note: More discussion on this subject can be read in my old blog post "Time online... All the time?"