Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Screen time

Dear Laura Sybil,

How does your family monitor TV, movies, computer games, video games, etc., etc., etc.? Whenever I try to put a limit on it, my little kids say I'm mean and my tweens say I'm unreasonable. Am I?

Signed,
Mean and Unreasonable Mom


Dear Mean and Unreasonable Mom,

Never fear! You're in good company; I'm a mean and unreasonable Mom, too. Mean and Unreasonable Moms Unite! We could start a new group and call it MUMU. What do you think?

But seriously, you bring up a good point and a question that is asked a lot. One of my favorite screen time stories is when I was carpooling two teens around. Not my own children, these children had their own cell phones, with texting. The teen in the front seat was texting with the teen in the back while the rest of us had a conversation around them.

At our house, we call it screen time and it includes all of the screens you mentioned in your letter. Here's my mantra on this issue: Screen time is a privilege, not a right. If I had a quarter for every time I have said that, I could treat myself to Bruster's ice cream more often.

Around here, the children can earn 30 minutes of screen time per day by completing all daily jobs including instrumental practice, schoolwork, and chores. Jobs not finished? No screen time. Of course schoolwork on the computer is not included in the 30 minutes. Exceptions would be long trips where longer screen time keeps the adults sane and special movie viewings with all or part of the family.

By the time the child is in high school, more freedom is given to monitor his or her own screen time. But we have certain safeguards in place. We have a block on our computer so certain websites, and types of websites, cannot be viewed. The computers don't come on before a certain hour in the morning and they go off by a certain time in the evening. I cannot stress how important blocks are. Don't wait until it's too late.

It's not a perfect system but it works for us. You don't have to implement the same rules and system, but you do need to have something in place. I really like the rules I found on the iMOM website under 5 Screentime Rules You Must Have and not just because my personal mantra is top on the list. And not even because we follow all of these rules even though we didn't know we were using them. Mostly I just like them because they make sense. If they also make you mean and unreasonable, so be it. You aren't the first mean and unreasonable mom and you won't be the last. But you'll likely be thanked. Someday. In the far, far, far future.

Sincerely,

Laura Sybil, Mean Mom Extraordinaire

P.S. Your invitation to join MUMU will be sent in a separate email

P.P.S. It has been brought to my attention that I am not only mean and unreasonable but also archaic seeing as we have only basic cable, our kids don't have their own cell phones, and the one phone that they all share (to be used only for a child needing to be picked up or to contact parents for some reason) does not have texting. I guess that makes us AMUMU (Archaic Mean and Unreasonable Mothers Unite!). And proud of it!

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