Ground Rules

The kids were all screaming; I was in shock… three, brand new, iPod Shuffles had just emerged from behind wrapping paper and I was not quite sure what to do.

Ground RulesNormally, most parents would be extremely happy about their children receiving such gifts from other people. Hey, I didn’t have to pay for them, now did I? It’s not that I wasn’t extremely grateful; I was. No, it’s just that this was new territory for us. My husband not being present when the children received their gifts, I didn’t even know if he would let them keep these, let alone what rules would now need to be instituted.

I’m sure our girls all breathed a sigh of relief when their pop decided they would be able to keep their lovely present. We popped them open, set them up, organized their tunes, and then set some ground rules.

No Listening When We Have Company – I refuse to allow my children to become one of the masses of children who sit around with ear plugs in their head, while adults are sitting around trying to have a conversation with them. When guests are present or when visiting other people, no iPods should be seen.

No Listening During Family Time – It is one thing to take out a device to grab a quick photo of all the fun, but to sit around preoccupied with other things during our time together as a family, is not cool. Luckily, theirs does not have a camera, so this should not pose a problem.

Listening Time is Limited – We all like music in our house; we own tons of it. However, there is a time and place for everything. I don’t want our children to become dependent on outside entertainment to keep them occupied. They need to learn to monitor themselves and limit how much media they intake.

They are free to listen when they are not schooling, when they are reading, on the road, and during reading time at bedtime. There are plenty of opportunities for them to listen to their music and enjoy their new devices.

I really don’t want this to become an area of their lives governed by me. Their guidelines are loose on purpose, so they learn to make wise choices on their own. Considering the iPod Shuffles don’t come with anything but the ability to play music, this shouldn’t prove to be too hard.

Thus far, they are doing just fine. They are listening a lot less than one might expect and choosing to use their time doing other things; writing in the awesome journals their tía gave them, drawing on their new light board, reading, and simply being kids.

Perhaps this is good ground work for the future, when other devices come into play. By starting off small, the kids are learning to be faithful with the little things. When the big ones come along, a good foundation will have been laid and we’ll be ready for it.

Do you have ground rules for device use in your household?

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11 thoughts on “Ground Rules

  1. Our rules are pretty similar to yours….no ear buds during family time or when we have company. No matter what’s going on, if a grown up speaks to you or makes eye contact, the ear buds come out so listening can happen. We’re pretty patient about waiting a moment for her to pause her song or video and take out the ear bunds, and she’s good about not making us stand there giving her “the glare.” 😉

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  2. Two of our kids have tablets and one has a phone which is only used for going online. I used to have a period from 1-4 called media blackout, during which no electronic devices may be used. I’ve recently lengthened this period to 10-4 because it’s really important to me that my kids do more hands-on projects. I will make an exception if they need to go online for research or how to do something. I am well aware of how much they do learn while on these devices, which is why they have as much time as they do. They’re also not allowed on during chore times or meals.

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  3. I remember when I was a kid and we had the walkman radio/cassette player. My mother didn’t allow us to listen to the radio with headphones. We were allowed to listen to a few radio programs when she was in the room listening. That way she could monitor what we were listening to. I personally get headaches from using headphones or earbuds even if I turn down the volume really low. So I never got into it.

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  4. One got an ipod for Christmas (from us). Pretty much, though, it’s only been pulled out for long trips and when they want to learn the words to the songs in Frozen (the movie). They do a great job sharing it with each other (There are three of them.). So I haven’t had to regulate yet. Maybe we won’t! Wouldn’t that be nice?

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  5. Screens have never been presents from us either. That’s always the grandparents… oh well. Actually, we’ve learned once our kids get over the initial newness, usually in a week or two, there’s less attention paid to the objects…with the exception of my daughter’s phone but she is 18 now and in college…so…
    About the only rule we have now is no screen that’s not required during ‘school’ hours… the only exception being algebra (Teaching Textbooks) and an online Russian class…obviously required. When they were younger, we did have a time limit on how much screen time they could have which included TV and computer time. It usually wasn’t necessary but was a nice rule to fall back on whenever a day might occur in which it was needed.

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  6. I think it’s great that you are taking a stand and making sure that your kids still know how to be happy without a screen. It’s such a challenge today, because at the same time you don’t want them to be strangers to technology, but I think you’ve found a good balance.

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  7. It was interesting how the phrase, “He’s got those things in his ears” became a part of our household lingo after my father made this observation about my son. Love your rules. Perhaps one more about the volume, and a budget for downloads.

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    • Oh; both good points!! The downloads are not an option for them, so that one is good. The volume, however, definitely needs attention. Luckily, I can set their max volume level when their pods get sinc’d (which they don’t know about yet).

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