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Mobile phones, screen use and children

Posted by IngridO 
Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 20, 2018 09:09PM
I'm worried about screen use and the next generation. I saw the Sunday programme about how too much screen use (phones, ipads etc) showed the same damage to the brain as Heroin users.

You can see how its already affecting posture - always looking down at phones - sore necks etc...
I often try to talk to my kids whilst they are watching screens and they are so engrossed that they ignore me. It causes all sorts of tantrums when I take it away as well. I know I need to set some better boundaries for my children.

For parents: How much screen use do you allow your children per day?
Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 20, 2018 09:41PM
My 2 boys got tablets when they were 10 and 8 (they are now 14 and 12).Time on them was strictly limited to 30 minutes per day, with an hour on weekend mornings before we get up. This has largely not changed and my husband and I decided several years ago that this was a parenting battle we felt it was important to fight. Our boys sometimes get annoyed by it, but by and large have accepted how this is in our family and just get on and do other things.

We now have a playstation, and they only get 30-45 minute turns on that per day, plus usually a little bit of time on their ipads, by little bit I mean 15 min or so (ipads were a required purchase for school when they entered year 7). My older son has his phone in his pocket at school, but doesn't have much time to do anything on it, and neither of them have very much mobile data for other times. The amount of time he's on is going to be more than the 12yo, but that's a benefit of age, and that I've seen that he doesn't get lost in his phone, he'll often look up something that he's seen on tv or read about, then put it back down. Not so much endless hours of YouTube or games.

Ipads do not leave the house except to go to school or if we go on holiday. Phones and ipads are not used in the car as a form of entertainment, except on a 3hr+ trip.

My older son as a laptop which he uses for school work as everything is done online now, which of course doesn't count for recreational screen time. He'll sometimes want to research how to make something, he's into metalwork and woodwork, and will have his ipad in the garage so he can follow online instructions and videos on how to do what he's making, and that too is fine with us. He'll often get up after he's been doing a couple of hours of homework and shut his laptop and comment how he just needs to go outside and do something not looking at a screen, he doesn't like it, and has expressd a desire to find a a career that does not involve hours a day of looking at a screen.

I bought a router last year that allows me to set schedules for wifi access to indivdual devices, and to also control wifi to individual devices from my phone. So if for some reason someone isn't meant to be having screen time and I suspect that they'll try and sneak it, I just turn the wifi to that device off. There isn't much that they do that isn't online.

Ipads and phones are only to be used in shared areas of the house, no hiding in your room, and all devices are put on to charge in the living room at 7pm each night, unless my older son needs his for school work. After dinner they'll watch a bit of TV, until the 12yo goes to bed at 8:15 (reads until 8:45) and the 14yo goes to bed at 9:15 and usually has his light out around 9:45-10.

My 14yo has an instagram account, but no other social media, and he mostly uses it for messaging his friends. He rarely posts and has made some IMO mature observations about some of the others in his year and their posting/commenting habits. This reassures me that we made the right choice in strictly limiting this stuff, as he's not become completely absorbed in it and can see it largely for what it is. My 12yo doesn't have any social media access and hasn't asked for it, but he does have a Kindle for reading as he is such a voracious reader that I find it easier to deal with ebooks for him rather than waiting for books I've ordered to come into the library. I count the kindle as a book.

We chose to move to a rural location several years ago partly to allow our children easier access to outdoor activities and so they'd be less reliant on screens for entertainment, and I think this is has made a difference. Most of my sons' friends live on farms or lifestyle blocks and they all spend a lot of time out doing things or working on the farm, rather than staring at a screen.

Of course I don't think the internet is all bad, but like food, we have to watch our consumption of certain types, and just like many parents carefully watch what and how much food their children eat, we have chosen to do the same with media.

It is something you can take control of and your children will get used to it in time. Like I said before, personally I feel it is a battle worth fighting.

This was posted to our local facebook group the other day by a parent who was horrified that the local primary school was using twitter in the classroom. I thought it was quite a good start and is more aimed at adults, but explains the point quite well


Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 20, 2018 11:16PM
What a great post Jenna! Oh brother am I glad I'm not bringing up kids in this social media era...
Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 21, 2018 04:21AM
Jenna you are amazing and I need to get as motivated as you obviously have to take control of this.
My kids will sit glued to their phones/ laptops unless I intervene.
It is such an issue and a constant battle.
Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 21, 2018 05:06AM
Where does TV fit in ?

We NEVER have the TV on anymore favouring internet TV - Netflix or on demand or Youtube. The TV has become a big black waste of space on my wall. I dont even think my kids remember ever sitting watching actual TV One/Two ect.

Mine use their Ipads instead of TV so when they are watching things - its really the same.

My youngest 6, plays with Lego whilst watching age appropriate things on KIDS youtube. My 10 year old watches movies and scooter/skate videos or fail army style things. Hes recently got in to music so wants to download songs.

If there was a choice the oldest would choose to be outside on his scooter/skateboard so I encourage that, the youngest although needs time out and time alone is starting to want to be more social.

My way of tackling it is keeping them busy out and about (although at times exhausting) so when they are home, its chill out time and I dont believe there is anything wrong with relaxing engrossed in something on a screen.

At the moment they are in my control and I know what they are watching, I often have conversations about cyber safety and inappropriateness regarding language and content.

Funny tho, on Spotify the top NZ playlist has "EXPLICIT" for most of the songs!!!

As we know its all about balance and using things appropriately, its our job to teach this and help our kids make the right choices.

Modelling appropriate behaviour goes along way and I know Im a big FAIL at this, I love my phone and use it for everything - not just social media and messaging people but the news, banking, work emails , recipes - its always at my finger tips.

Im hanging out for the FOODLOVERS app BTW!

Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 21, 2018 05:10AM
On a side note - what is it about screen time that is the issue?

Bad posture?
Content? Language/sex/violence?
Social Media - content? The fake nature of it? Bullying
Other people/privacy? stranger danger
Or just a lack of balance?

Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 21, 2018 06:56AM
Vanessa - all of the above. The more time is spent looking at a screen, the less time is spent on real world interactions with people and things that grow your brain and strengthen your body. If children don't learn how to interact with others when they are young, how on earth are they going to be able to do it as adults? And I'm talking more about the little nuances of life, rather than "hello/please/thank you".How to read body language, how to read someone's tone vs what their face is saying, all these things that you can never learn by typing to someone or watching a video. That's not to say there isn't a useful skill in being able to express yourself well in type, but I think that is one that can be learned later, not in these very important childhood and mid teen years.

For us, TV is somewhere in the middle. We've not watched broadcast TV in years, only Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. I have no interest in being slammed with ads and less than no interest in most of the rubbish reality tv shows. We usually watch as a family on the TV (we have a streaming player, as our TV only has netflix installed on it), not as individuals on separate devices. I see that as no different than anything else... it is the lack of social interactions. There is even something to be learned in negotiating with the other members in your family on what to watch tonight.. and that sometimes you may be surprised, you have to watch a show you didn't htink you'd like (because it was brother's night to choose), and hey, it's actually pretty good. Perhaps it is ok to not get to choose what I am going to watch ALL the time, because someone else's choices might show me something I would otherwise have missed out on.

After dinner my 14yo will often go off and watch a show of a series he is watching on our second TV (a computer monitor with a streaming player plugged into it) as he has very different tastes to my husband and I grinning smiley I have less objection to decent TV shows than to hours spent watching mindless cr@p on YouTube or putting around on social media.

ETA: One of the major drivers for us against social media is because we in no way want our children to measure their self worth in terms of how many likes, views or followers they have online. The other is as adults, I would hope we would all know how false most of this stuff is. In general, people (and all "influencers" - hate that word and the fact that they even exist) only show the most edited, sanitised, scripted, best bits of their lives. And kids don't understand that this isn't all of life, it isn't accurate, and it isn't what life is actually about. Kind of like how p0rn isn't an accurate portrayal of sex in the real world, instagram and snapchat aren't an accurate portrayal of most people's real lives. In general, kids and teens don't understand this, and only see these magical, picture perfect lives (and bodies) and wonder why that's not them and their family.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2018 07:14AM by Jenna.
Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 21, 2018 04:58PM
Seems to be the same as when TV was first introduced: kids will damage their eyes, their sleep routines will go awry, posture will be bad, nevermind seeing and hearing things that children shouldn't. History repeats itself!
Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 21, 2018 06:41PM
Jenna, that is a really good post to share and I have to agree, Lorna.
It is about a whole lot of things, good, not so good and bad. It is also about a balance in our lives and those of our children.
Being addicted to any device can be as bad as being addicted to alcohol, drugs or tobacco. Not just to the person who is addicted but to the lives of those around them. Not everyone has an in-built sense of self-control. It often needs to be worked on.
When in the car I often watch a long line of vehicles, of which I am one of them, being delayed at intersections and lights because someone decides their phone is more important than anyone else. Even worse is thinking they can drive and concentrate on their phone (hands-free, or hand-held) at the same time.
I watch very little television but enjoy some programmes. I keep up with the news on computer/tablet rather than watching presentations of various items gleaned directly from social media and being portrayed as news.
Re: Mobile phones, screen use and children
March 23, 2018 03:09AM
Jenna, you have covered so much great ground with your fantastic posts, and congratulations to you to putting so much work into dealing with this issue with your kids. The only thing I would like to add is re addiction. My training is in psychology, and I can tell you that the way phones work, with things coming in at irregular intervals, is exactly the way a slot machine works. Every time we get something we enjoy, like a message from a friend or a like or whatever on the phone or a prize on a slot machine, we get a little hit of dopamine which makes us feel good. Of course we want more, but we don't know when the next hit is coming, so we have to keep checking the phone/pressing the slot machine lever until another reward arrives. The more we look at the phone/press the slot machine lever the greater the likelihood we'll see the next reward, so that's why they're so addictive. What's more, phones are designed to increase this addiction as much as possible. No wonder people can't put them down! I'm now in IT, and there is a lot of discussion currently in Silicon Valley about what they have done to people and how they can put it right. A lot of people who have been with, say, Facebook from the beginning can now see how their product has damaged people as well as helped them and they are talking about ways that they can make their products less addictive. A striking number of Silicon Valley people have abandoned smartphones altogether in their own lives.
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