I sent my kids off to Church Camp this week and my husband and I are taking Parent Camp quite seriously.
While I already miss my children, do you know what my first thought was when I returned to a quiet, empty house after dropping them off?
My kids are getting an entire week without screens. There are no video games for my teen son, no Animal Jam for my tween, and no Instagram for my teen daughter. There’s no Circle devices to monitor or texts to read, no password protected screens or screen time allowances. It’s a break for everyone.
We aren’t even three weeks into summer and I’m already weary of the screen time negotiations.
Maybe you are too.
It makes me sad–this obsession that has become a pastime or maybe it’s a pastime that has become an obsession?
I know without constant monitoring, unplugging and resisting my kids’ desire for more technology is insatiable. And I’m guessing balance is probably a struggle for most families. I know some have simply stopped struggling against it and just given in. I get it.
We are in an unprecedented era of technology that none of us have ever experienced. And we really don’t know the effect it will have on our children.
I know that I am parenting my youngest different in regards to technology just from what I’ve learned on my oldest. I’ve seen the harmful effects of social media and even though I made my teen wait until her freshman year, I want my youngest to wait even longer. I’ve learned that sitting my teen son in front of a computer to take homeschool classes is a temptation and he’d much rather learn in a co-op. Mostly, I’ve learned that I should say no to my kids regarding technology more than I say yes.
One of my teens rolled their eyes the other day when they had to ask me to enter the password for the family laptop to do a last minute school assignment. “Really, Mom? I’m a teenager.”
Exactly. Hate me.
You guys. This isn’t going away. And if you’re like me and you’re struggling against it trying not to give into the pressure, it’s going to take brave parenting to resist it.
And let’s face it, summer is the hardest time to control screens and also the best time to start.
This summer my kids and I will serve, we will volunteer at the Mercy House warehouse, we will work (I have a driving babysitter!), we will go to church camp, we will have fun. There will be movie days, sleeping in and mindless surfing.
But it will be controlled. Because that’s my job.
So, here’s our summer internet plan that I’m taping on all the kids bedroom doors in my house on June 1. I’m happy to share:
Mom, I understand before I use screens/internet this summer:
- I will eat breakfast (or brunch as some days might have it)
- I will get dressed/shower if I haven’t gone swimming lately (gotta love summer)
- I will check with you to see what the plans are for the day
- I will make sure where I live is not appealing to rodents
- I will keep the pets alive with food
- I understand once these things are done, you will un-pause our Circle device so I can enjoy 1-2 hours of screen time for the day (if we aren’t going/doing anything)
- If I want to earn more screen time today, I will read. [Every summer since my kids were little, we’ve exchanged reading time for screen time. If they read an hour, they get an extra hour of screen time. This works in several amazing ways: 1. Once they get into a good book, they can’t put it down 2. They can’t bank screen time for the next day 3. It turns kids into fabulous readers]
- Thank you, Mom, for caring about me 🙂
If you haven’t heard of or tried the Circle, you guys, it has literally empowered my husband and I as parents with one simple push of a phone app. (I’m not being paid to tell you about it and I bought the one our family uses and I’m blown away by it). Every device in our house is controlled by the Circle device. We can pause the internet for one or all of our kids (from the kitchen or from out of state on the phone app). We can set bedtimes and see exactly where they are going online, plus there’s a safe family filter in place. I highly highly recommend it!