Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tech Tips Tuesday

How much screen time?

We have just finished having a two-week break from school and are heading back into our normal
routines. By the end of the holidays, however, we'd fallen into some pretty bad habits. Daylight savings has meant that we have been more relaxed over bedtime for our son. And, as for screen time? Our son's use of screen time has allowed us to have more of a sleep in the next day! We've really had to work at getting out of the house - taking the dog for a walk, going for a bike ride, seeing the city and participating in the real world. These are all good things, but take effort!

In the past week I took part in a survey about children and video games. It really got me thinking about what is good and beneficial in terms of screen time.
My son just got a 2DS for his birthday, so along with the iPhone he had handed down and the iPad he bought second hand, he is getting more than the desired screen time for a six-year-old. And it doesn't help that he is growing up in a home where Mummy is always testing out new apps and resources with him, and Daddy is an absolute whiz when it comes to working out the logistical side of things.

So, this week we tried to come up with a solution in terms of screen time. My husband had heard of people instigating a daily limit for their children, so we decided on 30 minutes (not guaranteed - but dependent on what's happening and what will work for the family). We decided to add an opportunity for our son to "earn" more screen time by engaging in outdoor play, such that for every two minutes of outdoor play he banks an additional one minute of screen time. This banked time can be used on the day it is earned or rolled over (unused normal daily limit is not rolled over).

Sound like all those terms and conditions you usually skim over? Wait... there's more! The walk to and from school does not count toward the extra time, nor does outside play as part of the usual school day. Television counts as screen time only when it is chosen as an individual activity. And Pokemon Go doesn't count as either screen time or outdoor play - the two cancel each other out!

As you are probably beginning to understand, we have a six-year-old who needs to know all the ins and outs so that he can make the most of all these minutes! It's early days and we are just trying to find a way to keep better track of how he is using his time.

That said, it does make me pause for a moment to think about my personal response to screen time. I probably spend far too much time looking at a screen and far too little engaging in outdoor play. Particularly in the holidays when I want to dibble and dabble and learn new things online.

And then I could also play the devil's advocate and go against all that I fight so hard for and ask the question: Should we be limiting the amount of screen time used in the classroom? And if so, what is the "right" amount?

Is screen time something that we should be putting limits on, or is it something that people should engage in freely and monitor for themselves? When is screen time a problem, and when does it become just a part of how we live our lives these days? And is that a problem in and of itself?

What are your thoughts?

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