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How Screen Limits for YOU Can Help Your Children

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi said it best. If only we could all be as wise, right? Well, at least when it came to our own little micro worlds!

I’m all too aware that parenting in a digital world is no easy feat, especially when my children are like sponges. They absorb absolutely everything I do, and by everything that (unfortunately) includes the amount of time I spend behind the screen. As unnerving as it was for me to admit, modeling is parenting — at least a good chunk of it. That’s why it became so important for me to be aware of my own screen habits and work towards setting a better example for my three boys.

Rethinking my digital domain

Initially, I thought it was easier said than done. I lived in a digitally connected world where the amount of time spent in front of the screen at work, at home and on the go directly equated to my success and my ability to stay in the know at all times. My job and everyday life demands left me no choice but to be within a screens reach at all times.

Stop. That’s enough.

Time to do away with my excuses and rethink my digital world. Was I really doing everything I could do to reduce my screen time?   Not even close.

Forget time, think energy

Time management. My parents and teachers drilled it into me early on and my later bosses only reinforced its inherent value with training courses and organisational tools. I’d been wired to think that better time management would maximise my productivity, but what good was time if I didn’t have the energy to take advantage of it? Thanks to James Clear, I’m learning to reprioritise my day around my energy levels and it has truly made a world of difference — and will for you too!

Creative work first, reactive work second

Think about the time of the day when your energy is at its peak. For many of us, it’s first thing in the morning when the grind of everyday life hasn’t quite had a chance to drag us down yet. I like to use this time to focus on the most important tasks first that require the most creative capacity. I’ve made it a habit to make sure my smartphone and any other distractions are out of sight, out of mind. I’ve even resisted the temptation to check my emails, make a business call, check off an item on my never-ending list of to-dos or do any other “secondary” tasks for that matter. Why? I soon realised that it was only cluttering my mind with unnecessary information (and unnecessary worrying) that hindered my creative thought process.

Ask yourself what you’re really missing out on

I particularly loved The Parent Practice’s article “Is your Digital Distraction Spoiling Family Life?”. What could be worse than your child trying to tell you that they did not feel important or valued during a special moment in their life (whether it be a swimming class, tennis tournament, dance recital…) because you were checking your messages. That’s why I’ve made a personal commitment to living in the present by unplugging and really paying attention to my environment — and my kids. What could be more important than that?

Limit your screens, limit their resentment

It became a breeding ground for resentment when I tried to limit the amount of time my son spent playing Minecraft when he constantly saw me behind the screen — or worse yet — when he tackled the mammoth of a boy on the rugby pitch while I was too busy being digitally distracted. The last thing I wanted was to not be taken seriously or be called a hypocrite by my own child! I learned the hard way that only once I’d learned to limit my own screen time was there any hope that my children would slowly start to follow in my footsteps. To my surprise, dinner was no longer going cold because my son desperately needed to finish another level of Minecraft. 🙂

photo credit: confused_me via pixabay cc

We’d love to hear your views. As a busy parent, how do you manage your own screen time? Which one of these tips most resonates with you, and why?

Remember that many parents are looking for inspiration and support so share as much detail as you can below. Your share may be the one that truly helps another person.

Important: please share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments.

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8 years ago

My biggest distraction is, hands down, Facebook. I’ve recently removed it from my phone, just so that the temptation isn’t even there. I’d much rather watch my daughter continually improve her figure skating moves. I don’t want to miss the first goal my son makes in hockey. I don’t want the nagging distraction calling to me while I’m conversing with my husband. As a writer, self-promotion is part of the game. Social media is a huge part of my “work.” But like any career, it shouldn’t take over family time, right?!

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