I have such a love/hate relationships with screens, and maybe you do as well. Sharing some thoughts about it today in partnering with a new device to help us monitor and set limits called Circle with Disney. Here are some things I’m thinking about…
Screens can be an amazing way to connect, learn, and entertain ourselves and our families (what did we do at the post office before them?). On the other hand, all the unknowns about how it’s affecting us, especially our children, is a little overwhelming. Also, to be honest, screens are a major source of mom-guilt for me. Lots of ‘shoulds’ to myself about when and how they’re being used.
A few things I’m thinking about:
Keep expectations low. I like to mostly give screen time as a reward, so I keep the expectations for screen time really low. Then, when I really need or want to give it out, they’re pleasantly surprised and excited. The problem with this system is there’s a lot of complaining on a regular basis about why they don’t get much pre-set screen time at all (and lots of comparing).
Hand held devices over tv. Is this better or worse? Our kids are using screens more than ever, especially hand held devices. And children under 18 represent 1 in 3 Internet users worldwide.
The Goldilocks Approach.This new NPR article talks about what we know right now about screen time. It’s a great overview on the current research. I like what they say about the “Goldilocks approach of not too much, not too little”. In the end, social media and the internet are an important part of our society and economy, no matter how we feel about it. I want to be sure my children are well educated in how to use the internet, social media, and screen time effectively and responsibly.
Are we too strict? Maybe. This article makes a good argument for it. I like the point about how screen time enjoyed with a family member is really great, quality family time. I need to remind myself that when Henry wants to sit and watch funny videos or play Minecraft with us after the girls are in bed. Quality time, right?
Red Flags. That same article also shares some red flags for screen addiction. A good thing to make a mental note of (yikes too, because all my kids have some of these issues??)
But… we’re all kind of addicted. And what do we do about it? I’ve started deleting apps for a few days at a time. This is something Jared and I keep experimenting with. Because social media is part of my job, I feel like I rationalize more time on those platforms. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like it’s becoming too much, I delete Instagram or Facebook for a few days. Usually it’s the weekend when I know I don’t have content going up. Jared has done this as well, taking Facebook off his phone and only viewing it on a computer, which makes is less convenient. Any tips for limiting your own usage?
When Circle with Disney reached out to me, I was so curious about their product. I’m excited about it and think it could be a great tool for you too. Here’s what you need to know:
Circle with Disney is a little device (the little white box on the shelf here) that pairs wirelessly with the internet in your home to help you manage screen time. It works across all internet-based devices like smart phones, iPads, computer/internet browsing, streaming tv, playstation and other gaming systems. So, pretty much any screen your family is on, it can monitor. Here’s what it does:
Filtering. You can set filters depending on the age of the family member to be sure they’re only seeing what’s appropriate for them. These filters come defaulted with settings designed for that age group, but can be easily and quickly customized.
Time Limits. You can set how long you want children to be on their device, or even specific games and apps. Then, the device gives them a notification that their time it up.
Bedtimes. You can set a specific bedtime for the devices. Great for teenagers who might be on their phones in bed at night or adults (totally want to do this for myself!)
Rewards. Screen time is our most common reward these days for good behavior. I like how this is incorporated into the Circle with Disney product. As a reward, can send them a message on their device that they have extra time that day, or an extended bedtime.
Pausing. When it’s time to leave the house, or dinner’s on the table, you can pause devices and they get a notification about that.
Usage. How much time are we really spending on our phones? This has been the most interesting part for me personally. You can track exactly how much time you’re using on what apps or devices in your home.
Circle App. Everything is managed through a free, handy app monitoring up to 10 devices. The Circle Go version works across 4G as well (so not just at home!) and costs $4.99 a month.
I’ve been really loving the features of this product, and feeling like it could really help us all have a healthier relationship with technology in our home.
What tips do you have to manage screen time in your home?
Thanks to Circle with Disney for sponsoring this post.