Like most children, ours are fascinated with any form of media. They would sit for hours on end searching the wide web for all possible games, play on the iPad endlessly, and watch movie after movie; that is, if we let them.
Early on in our children’s lives, we made the conscious decision to limit how much media they were exposed to. We shocked the world (well, our little world) when we told people we didn’t have television. (We have a TV, it just doesn’t get reception; videos only!)
As our children grew older and we became self-employed, computers became a part of our lives. This soon became something for us to consider. Do we let them play on it? How much time should we allow them?
In the last few years, my husband has started developing iPad/iPod applications for kids. So, inevitably, these devices have become a portion of our lives. Our children are often called upon to test the latest app and to check for “bugs”.
With all of the media that surrounds our children, it is easy to become lax in what they are consuming. Sure, we have filters! Yes, we have blocks! That doesn’t mean that everything coming through is fit for our kids.
We found that we needed to set limits. Boundaries needed to be put in place to ensure that our children knew the rules and that as parents we were being accountable.
Time is limited. Our children know that, during the school year, they are not allowed to have TV or play games on devices during the week. Yup, that’s right! From Monday till Friday night, our kids have to find some other way to keep themselves occupied. Not only are they limited to weekends, but they also are limited to a certain amount of screen time. When it comes to devices, the kids get one hour a piece, per day; period. In terms of TV, they usually get one movie on Friday and perhaps a couple over the weekend. They have learned to use their time wisely.
Space is limited. The laptop is placed on an open table in our front room, where it can be seen by anyone walking by. Our kids know that anything they are doing can be seen and heard. There are no computers in their rooms and most definitely no televisions!
Site unseen. Our children have their own user on the laptop. With their user, certain blocks have been put in place that allow us to keep our kids safe. If my husband or I haven’t approved it, it doesn’t get added to the list of sites they can visit. The same goes with devices and movies. If we haven’t seen it, they don’t get it. Most of the sites that are approved must have something to do with expanding their minds. I don’t want them taking in junk! If it doesn’t add wrinkles to the brain, it usually doesn’t get added to the list.
During the summer, rule number one is a little stretched; it is summer after all! However, once the school year starts, the rule becomes firm.
Over the years, these rules have continued to work beautifully. Our children have learned to develop wonderful imaginations, to be creative, and use ingenuity; the media they are allowed has only helped to enhance this.
Do have certain rules for your children, when it comes to media? Which rules have you found hardest to keep?