Now that school has started it’s back to routine and’dare I say it’rules. We don’t run what you would call a tight ship at our house, but we do have expectations around things like who walks the dog and when, homework goes before TV, no TV until after dinner, at least one extracurricular activity for all and bed time without argument (yeah, right!). All of these things need to be revised and renewed at the beginning of each school year.
One of the big battles I regularly have with my kids is around media. It’s always the same: How much can they have of it (TV, gaming, texting, etc) and who gets to use what device at what time. A friend and I were talking about our kids’ increasing need to use technology. My friend shared with me that her 14-year-old daughter goes to bed early every night at around 8 p.m. I was amazed at that but then she told me her daughter climbs under the covers with her laptop on one side, the converter for the TV in her room on the other and her cell phone on her lap’there’s not much sleeping going on. Which put my battles in perspective’my kids haven’t quite reached that stage yet.
Here are some tips from Kristie Demke, President of the Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), on managing your kid’s media time.
Have a face-to-face talk with your kids. Decide how much media time is reasonable and how much is too much. You may be surprised at how different your expectations are from theirs. Agree on limits around gaming, computers, texting (and phone) and TV and set up a schedule if necessary.
Determine who pays for what. The number of texts included in your carrier plan will be a starting point but you also need to determine who pays for overage charges and how that money will be earned.
Have set media-free times. Consider ‘media free’ times such as during meals, while carpooling (a great time to talk) and during family time such as movie or game night.
Make physical activity non-negotiable. Pick out at least one activity that he or she will participate in that is physically active. It could be swimming, fencing, yoga or hockey, whatever interests them and fits your family schedule.
Get the family outside on the weekend. Whether it’s a bike ride or a hike, an afternoon at the wave pool or even a game of tag in the yard it remind your kids how much fun it is to be ‘unplugged’.
Limit cord clutter. Keep media accessories close to where they are used. This increases the chance kids will put them away and makes it easy for them to do so. Have a box, basket or drawer designated for accessories. Label it or at least make sure each child knows where it is (this also limits the amount of time you’ll spend searching for their DS-iPod-cell phone-PS3 power cord when they can’t remember where they put it).
Do you have rules around media in your home?