Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why 'Screen Time' Matters in Our House

The screen time debate has been building for a while and recently a few have been extra vocal for their support (or lack thereof) for limits.  I even shared an article on facebook that spoke of several reasons why handheld devices should be banned for all kids 12 and under.  That article especially ruffled some feathers and it's rebuttals like this and this made some good points.



Here's what I think...

In my children's lineage there is a history of addiction and abuse in several areas.  Mr. Butler and I both have addictive personalities - meaning if we allow ourselves, we can grow addicted to things really quickly.  And when I say addicted I'm encompassing the entire spectrum from the mild to severe.  Because of our family's history, our knowledge about our ownselves and the tendencies we are already seeing in J, moderation is very very important.  Screen time, like eating habits, exercise, what we fill our minds with, is a big deal in our house.  The more time we spend on computers, kindles, phones, ipads, etc., the less responsive we are to each other and to our responsibilities.  In a similar way, the more junk food we eat, the less active we are, the more junk tv we watch, the worse our emotional, physical and spiritual health becomes.  Maybe your house isn't that way - and if so, I'm so glad for you!

I'm sure there are those who aren't as sensitive to some of these things, like screen time, as we are.  Banning media time is unrealistic and not exactly healthy, I absolutely agree.  We all find benefits and necessary uses for our electronic devices.  But in my experiences with my family, having unlimited availability is just suicide.  And I know we are not the only ones.  There is anecdotal evidence in all directions that too much of anything can be destructive.  Self-regulation and limits do not come naturally or at least not easily with us.  So we're training ourselves and each other with small amounts of media and lots of alternatives (outside, creative play, etc.).  For us, it's all about having a plan.

Ultimately, I see another case of imbalance and a one-size-fits-all assumption.  For some people, talk of banning media and screen time for children is necessary and good to get them considering setting limits at all.  For other people self-regulation and limits come so naturally in their world-view that the thought of banning anything seems dumb.  I think it is really great and really important to have this conversation.  Whatever the evil of the decade, we all have to find the line where it grows from helpful and positive to destructive and a big problem.  One of the larger problems we face is taking responsibility and proactively investigating what is best for our household, not just what the average American  requires. Sometimes it seems like a silly battle of the media and the government, but most issues like this should just prompt us to look into it ourselves and make a wise decision for the needs of your family.  Because in case you haven't noticed yet, every last one of us are different!  
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