Ah, Screen Time. That is a Thing where I live, and probably where most of you live, too, although it wasn’t when I was a kid. I remember, as a child, hearing somewhere that in Japan, people watched TV for an average of 8 hours a day, and thought to myself, “Is that all?”
There was important stuff to watch at all hours of the day, and when there wasn’t, there were video games to play. My mom would occasionally kick my outside to play with some rocks by myself or something, but overall, she wasn’t terribly concerned that I was melding with the couch. Well, she didn’t like me playing “that damn Nintendo”, but mindless TV was generally OK. I know that Husbachu’s parents actively encouraged their son to be absorbed into the Midnight Channel, because it kept him quiet, and they’d gladly do the same to my kids, but they know I feel Screen Time is a Thing, and I make a Fuss about, and they also live in Fear of me. Maybe.
Is it weird that I limit something that I enjoyed endlessly in my own youth? It does feel fairly hypocritical. Becoming a parent changes you. The same person that reminisces about playing Skies of Arcadia for 13 hours straight back in the day is the person who now reads articles like this and decides that her own kids need to be raised without these binges. “But it was fun!” “But it isn’t healthy!” And that’s really it. I look at myself, and, while I’m happy with whom I have become, I could certainly be healthier, physically and socially, and too much Screen Time, I feel, are at least a part of why I am the way I am today.
Anyways, I was just thinking about this because yesterday, I bent the rules and let Charmander play Kirby about an hour longer than I normally would let him do his thing, and at an earlier part of the day, because we were all having a day off, and he was super excited that our friend was lending him the game. (Yup, he’s playing Kirby Triple Deluxe like he wanted to). He had soccer in the morning, and a party at the park later in the afternoon, so I figured he was having plenty of physical activity and socialization that day, and it wouldn’t be a big deal. Wrooooooooooooooooooooooooongo! He went crazy with frustration at a level eventually, and began crying and raving and carrying on like some teenage CoD player or something. It was pretty awful, and it lasted for a while after he stopped playing. In comparison, today he died 5 times against a boss, but kept his cool, persevered, and beat it. The difference? He was having his normal block of Screen Time for his usual amount of time.
What is he used to? Well, we normally operate with bout 45 minutes after lunch, and then another half an hour to an hour before bedtime. That’s for the 5 year old; the 3 year old usually ends up not getting that second block (and honestly, he usually doesn’t care). Back when I first started trying to enforce Screen Time rules, there was a LOT of resistance, and a lot of grief when the time was over, similar to the break down we just had. However, having the screen time at set times of day REALLY HELPED. It became scheduled, so my kids stopped trying to sneak it in because they knew they would get it. The afternoon time slot is pretty much guaranteed (unless they try to sneak in earlier Screen Time, although going to preschool usually helps avoid this), otherwise Mommy would never get a break and would possibly start breaking things instead. I said earlier that the time slot lasted for “about” 45 minutes. This is how it works if they play a video game, since I have them stop after completing x amount of stages, seeing how it’s just rude and frustrating to make someone stop playing when they’re in the middle of trying to accomplish something. It used to be they’d watch Caillou at this point, so that was more of a set time, but whatevs. Sometimes Squirtle will still watch that, or maybe like, Daniel Tiger (who he once told me he loves more than his brother), because he doesn’t really play much in the way of video games yet. The evening time slot is earned by the following:
- Stopping Screen Time promptly in the afternoon
- Cleaning up all the toys that cut holes into my feet at least by the 5th time I’ve demanded it
- Attempting to eat dinner
- Not being a horrible person in general
- Accomplishing all this before 8 o’clock
Squirtle goes to bed at 7:30, hence one of the reasons he usually doesn’t get the second block of Screen Time. Also, he never cleans up the toys, so there’s that, too. Getting that extra Screen Time is an amazing motivator for Charmander, though. In some ways, it probably helps him behave better, provided I keep it under control, unlike yesterday where it went unchecked too long and he tried to destroy the world with his screams. But yeah. In all things, moderation.
Are you an avid gamer that enforces Screen Time on your kids, or possibly doesn’t? Or a non-gamer parent with thoughts on this? Or a kid with parents that enforce this stuff? Sound off in the comments below; we should share!