Have you ever wondered what a time traveller from a century ago would think if they got a glimpse into a modern household? On the one hand, imagine the wonder at seeing children conjure up, on a tiny screen, the breathing, speaking, smiling faces of relatives who live on the other side of the world. On the other hand, what would it be like to see loud, laughter-filled family dinners replaced by a group of silent figures hunched over the small, black rectangles they hold in their hands? This brave new world would no doubt seem like a strange mix of freedom and captivity.
As with all new technologies, devices have a bittersweet influence on our lives. They open up a whole new world of convenience and opportunity, but also carry with them the very real danger of obliterating something vitally important. We don’t want to fall into the trap of resisting innovation out of a fear of the unknown. After all, once even fridges were a controversial new technology! The key to integrating technology into your family life, WITHOUT it taking over, is to maintain consistent boundaries around where and when devices can be used.
1. Keep screens in shared family spaces
Many experts advise keeping screens out of children's bedrooms, and in shared spaces like the living room. One of the benefits of this approach is that you can more effectively monitor your child's use, keeping them safe online, and helping them maintain a balanced lifestyle.
2. Use routines to keep a balanced family lifestyle
Balance really is the key to ensuring that screens stick to a healthy supporting role in your family's life. For example, after a time, children can become used to the idea that they will be allowed to have some screen time...after they have finished their homework and any household chores that are their responsibility.
We know one family with young children that find it helpful to schedule in screen time at the same time every day (in this case, late afternoon). Now, their kids don't ask to watch a show at any other time of the day because they already know what the answer will be!
Keep in mind that some studies have indicated that exposure to artificial blue light before bedtime can cause delays in children feeling sleepy. Make sure that if screens are used before bedtime in your family’s daily routine, that the children make use of their Babiators Screen Savers, to block the blue light emitted by these devices.
3. Model by example
It is an unfortunate fact of parenting that our children are much more likely to follow what we do rather than what we say! There's not much point hollering at the kids to get outside and exercise when we ourselves spend the whole weekend sprawled on the couch scrolling through our feeds. An activity like going for a walk, baking, or even just weeding the garden is much more fun when you've got company. After all, spending time with mum and dad may not always be quite so high on their list of favourite things to do, so why not take advantage of this time when it is!