Creative Child

One Sensible Rule for Limiting Screen Time

by Rebecca Eanes

I recently gave my middle schooler a phone. I had intended to wait until high school, but with a big school field trip coming up and more time spent at friends’ houses, I knew I’d feel more at ease if we had a way to reach each other easily. Quickly, though, he developed the same problem that many of us suffer with today. His phone became attached to his hand.

We already have our kids’ on limited access thanks to our Circle device, and while it’s great for filtering content and setting time limits, the phone was still interfering too much. Honestly, all of our devices were getting in the way of quality family time. I’ve been known to check mine during a movie. My husband has been seen scrolling on his phone when it wasn’t his turn in whatever game we were playing, and my son watched videos on every road trip rather than engaging in conversation.                                                                                                             

I wanted a sensible solution to get us all looking into each other’s eyes again. Then, I heard about many artists who have begun insisting on phone-free concerts claiming that the devices were distracting people from the experience. The trend is catching on in schools and even at weddings. People are being asked to place their devices in a locked pouch or box so that they can be fully engaged in what they’re doing and who they are with instead of checking their phones or watching through a lens.

This made sense to me. I want to teach my kids to engage with the world around them, to see the beauty in their surroundings and color of people’s eyes. I want them to learn that people matter more than screens, and so I set one simple rule.

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When we gather together, silence your phones and put them away.

Initially, I thought of creating a no-phone zone in the house. Our living room and dining room are open as one big space, so it seemed like a good idea to put a box by the entrance and not allow devices in this area of the home. However, I’d already banned phones from the dinner table long ago, and we just don’t spend a lot of time in our living room. I felt the phone use interfered the most on car trips and during family activities. So, it made more sense for us to go with the “no phones when we gather” rule.

There is a time and place for technology; there is no denying that. My children are growing up in a tech-saturated world and it will likely always be part of their lives, but that doesn’t mean it gets to steal us away from one another. It can be in our lives without taking over our lives. The people we love and the experiences we share will always be more important than what’s happening online, and that’s the lesson I hope my kids take with them into adulthood.

 

Rebecca Eanes, is the founder of positive-parents.org and creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. She is the bestselling author of 3 books. Her newest book,Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, is more than a parenting book, it's a guide to human connection. She has also written The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parentingand co-authored the book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles in Action in Early ChildhoodShe is the grateful mother to 2 boys.

 

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