We spend A LOT of time as parents putting restrictions and boundaries in place for our children, usually with good reason and intent. We can easily find ourselves dictating what they can and can’t post, what apps/games they can use and how long they are allowed to be online.
However, when was the last time you checked in on your own online behaviour and screentime – honestly? TheBodyCoach Joe Wicks recently did a post about how he realised he was addicted to his phone and having had 5 days free of his phone with his two young children, it really made him realise how easily it can take over your life.
This is not a post to make you feel bad (we already do that enough to ourselves as parents) but more of a wake-up moment. I think technology is and can be amazing but it can also quickly take control of us rather than us of it.
Now put yourself in your child’s/teen’s shoes for a moment. They have restrictions on their devices, screentime, what games/apps they can access. No phones at the dinner table, in the bedroom may be some of yours? But do you monitor YOUR screentime (if not start doing it now and you will probably be shocked!) I did this on myself recently and was averaging 3 hours a day. Granted this includes work emails, dealing with life admin, banking, online food shopping and so on BUT the only social app I have that I use regularly on my phone is Facebook. I have Snapchat and TikTok but that is only there to monitor my daughters use and account on these apps and stay up to speed. Anything else I didn’t download as I was aware I would easily be sucked into a void of scrolling.
Some simple maths – 3 x 7 = 21 hours a week, = 1092 hours a year = 45.5 DAYS A YEAR on my phone!! If I carried on like this for 20 years that would be 2.5 years lost to my phone!! That both scared and upset me.
Imagine the projection for this generation of children who are on phones 20 years in their life before we were. What a waste of huge chunks of life that could be spent living in the ‘real’ world instead of the virtual or fake one. What else could we all achieve with that time.
Just to be clear I don’t mean we should all be running marathons or studying an MBA to make use of the time but just being in the moment – how many more conversations would we have? How many more memories would we make? How much more listening could we do? Saving our mental health from the hours of comparison, feeling inadequate or looking for validation from 100’s of ‘friends’ we’ll never meet.
So, this is a post just to say before we go in all hard with our kids on our expectations with their screentime (and I think we should by the way) – model the behaviour you want to see from them.