Updated: Jul 24
This week’s topic is all about Screen Time. How much screen time is ok? What are the signs of too much screen time?
I don’t know whether you are experiencing the same, but in my household screens are something that my children enjoy – and sometimes I think they enjoy them too much.
Whether this is TV for the little ones, or playing Minecraft (or other games) for my eldest. They can get completely engrossed and (if I’m not careful or busy myself) hours can go by. And then, when I
turn the screens off, there is often drama and tears and tantrums.
I understand that screens are a great way to relax – we all do it – and I believe that there is a time and a place for them rather than banning them totally. But at the moment, I feel that in our house there is too much screen time.
The signs that we are having too much screen time are that:
The kids will often ask for it as soon as they step in the door, rather than exploring what to play first – it seems it has become their ‘go to’ way to relax
When it is time to turn off screens, they get very upset
There is lots of anger and frustration when screen time comes to an end (‘this is the worst day EVER’) and it never seems to be enough
When it is time for bed, they suddenly seem to remember they haven’t done enough playing or reading or talking yet and start playing beautifully together, or want to chat or read
My eldest will ‘sneak off’ to find his screen whenever he can – and things like eating or homework or reading get cut short
When the kids are not on their screens they are super hyper, loud and over the top
They sleep less well – and getting to sleep is harder for them, especially if they have had screen time close to bedtime.
So how much is ok and who decides that?
I’ve found that the bit that actually matters most to my kids (especially my 9 year old) is that he has some certainty as to when he can play on his screen. And then in close second is him being able to know how long he has and being able to control and manage this himself (to a certain extent).
How much is ok?
I think this is a tricky question and very much depends on circumstances and each family. I can only speak for my family and here I have found, if screen time stays around 1 hour for the little ones and is between 1 and 2 hours for my older son (and does not go above 2 hours) the children are less grumpy and hyper, sleep better and have enough time to ‘fill their buckets’ – in terms of playing, reading, having time to chat with each other or me, playing outside in the garden or park, or any other activity they might want to do.
The less screen time we have, the more time there is also to connect – and bake, cook, play together! And having this connection in and of itself reduces battles, helps us figure out solutions as a team together and resolve conflict constructively rather than through shouting and telling.
Having said all of that, there are times when screens are still a ‘go to’ for me – for example after we have been out for a walk at the weekend and all the games and talking have been exhausted in a restaurant/ pub screens can be great. They mean my husband and I can have a conversation and relax with each other rather than feeling we need to keep everyone behaving so that the rest of the restaurant can enjoy their meal out as well.
Equally, if I am exhausted after a bad night, or a long week, or need to catch up on a bit of work, a bit of screen time can really help. And we also love a good Friday night movie together – snuggled up on the sofa enjoying some popcorn or other snacks.
So, there is a time and a place for screens in our house, without a doubt. For me, it is more about having some boundaries and structure around how much and when we enjoy screens. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, we are all happier!
Join me next Monday night on Facebook and YouTube for a conversation around how we decided together as a family on the amount of screen time that was ok in our house and when (in terms of times of day). I’m a visual person and I love a planner – so I have created an overview of what our screen time ‘family rules’ are, plus there is a template with the questions we asked ourselves as a family when agreeing the 'rules'. These will be free to download next week, in case you find stuff like that equally helpful ;-)
JULY 2023 UPDATE: OUR MONDAY NIGHT CONVERSATIONS HAVE BEEN REPLACED BY OUR TIP TUESDAY REELS. TIP TUESDAY, ALONG WITH ALL OLD MONDAY NIGHT CONVERSATION VIDEOS CAN BE FOUND ON OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE:
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Playlist for Tip Tuesday conversations:
For those of you that are new to our site – every Monday evening from 8pm we now do a quick 15 minute video conversation, talking all things family. Our mission is help make parents’ lives a little bit easier by sharing with you the things that do (and don’t) work in our family, keeping things real and building a supportive community of likeminded parents.
We want to cover topics that really matter to you and connect with you by sharing our stories, trials and tribulations, useful insights, lessons learnt, book reviews, topics that you have requested and things that I have tried as a mum of 3 that I have found helpful.
The aim is to give you a boost, a giggle or a virtual hug – and share something that you might find interesting or useful for your upcoming week with your family. I recognize that every family and every family situation is different – so some topics might resonate with you one week, but the topic the next week might not, and the one the week after might again – and that is ok. If you missed the video conversation on Monday, there is a link to the recording at the end of this Blog.
I’d love your comments as we go too and do share any topic suggestions that you might have. Simply email me at email@example.com or respond to me on Instagram or FB at mummymadethis. If you want to watch last week’s conversation you can watch a recording of it here (the link will work once the recording is available after the session):
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