My boys could very easily be described as iPad addicts. Left to their own devices (please excuse the pun), they would be glued for hours in front of the screen. Which inevitably results in a complete apocalyptic meltdown once either:
a) the battery dies.
b) the charger is lost or broken.
c) … a parent dares suggest that it’s time to do another activity!
I have witnessed complete personality changes that I can only associate with an exorcism. I am sure if I had cancelled Christmas there would have been less fuss!
Personally, I am very concerned about the amount of time children of this generation are spending in technologically driven activities. I honestly believe more hours need to be spent outdoors, playing and running around. Finding the time to do craft with my children needs to be timetabled into our already jam-packed family schedule, if it has any hope for eventuating. In fact, I am so concerned about the rise in technology and its effect on children’s imagination that it became one of the motivators for my book.
Apps are a source of playground conversation at my boys’ school. Some weekly homework tasks are even on Apps. I fear that it is awkward enough for my boys that I have banned some of the popular ABC3 television shows, and to go any further, banning iPads altogether makes me feel cruel. So after much consideration (and some pretty miserable family weekends), I decided something had to be done.
These are the steps we took and I am happy to report that “normality” reigns in our household again. And by normality I mean things aren’t perfect but at least the problems aren’t iPad related …
1. The Contract. I sat the children down and we had a chat. We talked about how iPads were making everyone unhappy. I showed them a contract I had written which we read together. Please refer to the photo for details. We all agreed the conditions were fair. I said that if they wanted to play on the iPad these were the new rules – and they signed it!
If you want to try this you might like to get your children to help write the contract with you?
2. Set a Time Limit. We all agreed that spending a long time on the iPad was bad for our eyes, stops us from playing with toys and from going outside. I said from now on iPad time was going to be 1½ hours a week (not including homework tasks). I usually split it up into three half-hour sessions over the weekend.
This is the time frame I have decided on as the parent. I have not conducted any specialist research in this field and I recommend every parent/family come up with a time they think is reasonable.
3. Revisiting the Rules. When the terms were broken by my boys I only gave one warning before some iPad time was taken from them. By having a contract written on paper it provided a visible reminder of what they had agreed to.
4. Set the tone. Before handing over the iPad I asked them what they were going to do when iPad time was over. I encouraged them to think about thanking me and walk over and handing it to me.
5. Set the timer. The boys set the timer on their iPads themselves. I set the timer on my phone also.
So far, so good. Every family is different. Every child is an individual. And as my mother says, “Every mother knows her own child best.” I would like to say I am not a parenting expert and can never see myself in that role. I am only offering ideas/suggestions which have worked for me and my family.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!