I wish I could say that my husband and I put a lot of thought into the decision to get our kids iPads of their own. My boys are only 5 and 8, after all, and I pride myself on having children who are more interested in mud and bugs than electronics. But the truth is that we snatched up those tablets without giving it much thought at all because Hello! Sale! And, more importantly, this momma was desperate to stop handing over her smartphone every time one of the boys wants to “look something up” or play Angry Birds.
I didn’t anticipate how challenging it would be to enforce screen time limits once my kids had those tablets in hand. Until now, managing screen time hasn’t posed much of a problem, but somehow that all changed once they had their own devices. We follow all of the “recommended practices” – storing their devices out of sight when they aren’t in use, using parental control software, and so forth. And when the iPads come out to play, I set a timer for 30 minutes and then….
Oh. Right. That’s where I fail miserably!
I get absorbed in whatever I am doing while they are absorbed in their iPads. The timer goes off and I just let them keep playing. The electronic babysitter is convenient for me, but I know it isn’t good for them.
As luck would have it, I found a solution!
“Mommy, can I play on my iPad? I’m building Hogwarts in Minecraft and I need to figure out…”
“Sure, bud. You’ve got 30 minutes.”
Half an hour later, while I’m eyeballs-deep in stinky socks and Underoos in the laundry room – POOF! All downloaded apps and internet access on my kiddo’s tablet vanish. Time is UP!
What magic gave me such incredible powers?!
I could tell the boys I’ve been studying with Dumbledore, but the truth is that I downloaded an app that lets me manage my kids’ devices from my phone, scheduling blocks of time when their tablets can or can’t be used. And with one simple click, the schedule can be overridden for a selected period of time – or “until I say so.” Bwa-ha-ha! That’s right, kids! UNTIL I SAY SO! OurPact is my electronic enforcer and, in those moments when I am otherwise indisposed, plays the role of “bad guy” for me.
I found this works best if I take a couple of extra steps:
- I set a timer on their tablets that gives them a “2 minute warning” before those apps disappear, and
- I have them decide – before hopping on their iPads – what they are going to do afterward.
Otherwise, the electronic enforcer results in grumpy, wandering children.
Knowing just how many teenagers are up until the wee hours of the morning on school nights, texting or interacting on social media long after their parents have gone to bed, I love that I already have a powerful tool for those not-so-far-off days when my boys want to flirt on Facebook instead of finish their geometry homework.
PIN IT FOR LATER:
This post was written by Ellie of Musing Momma exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.
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