6 Rules for Slaying the Electronics Monster in Your Elementary-Aged Kids

slaying-the-electronic-monsterMy 7-year-old son would live on electronic devices if I let him. Not only are devices a normal part of his education, every morning, noon, and night, he’s asking, “Mom, can I play the tablet?…or watch a movie?” Sometimes, it’s as if a Device Monster lives in my house.

Don’t get me wrong, my son’s a well-adjusted, high-level student—a good friend while surpassing his peers in math and language arts. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with the tablet, phone, or movies, but we all know the studies about limiting exposure.

It all makes me feel like I need to tattoo, “No electronics”, on my forehead so I don’t have to say it quite so often.

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But I hardly think a tattoo will take out the monster. If you’re like me and my friends, you have one of these electronic-consuming creatures in your household, too. So what’s a parent to do?

Here are 6 ground rules to control the Device Monster.

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  1. Responsibilities first. That includes math, reading, chores, and any other homework assignments. Setting it up this way allows screens to be a bit of a reward for quickly accomplishing tasks. Some kids need some down time after school and that’s okay, if that works for you. Unfortunately at my house, allowing screens before responsibilities means a bigger fight to get the necessary things accomplished. It may even mean no screens during the week.
  2. Activity next. Studies show that kids are able to concentrate better and are healthier if they work up a sweat…and sometimes jumping on the trampoline or kicking a soccer ball leads to my boy forgetting about a screen.
  3. Invest in reality. It’s a rare thing for me to allow a group of kids to play video games at my house, especially when my son is the only one with the ability to play. I mean, really, who wants to sit and watch someone else play a video game on a tablet? It’s rude. And we don’t do rude. My kids are required to invest in their real friends with real toys—Legos, ballgames, painting rocks, etc.
  4. Time limit. Limit how long your youngster spends glued to the screen and stick to it. Here’s a secret: Make the buzzer your bad guy. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to argue with a buzzer? It just doesn’t answer back. Even the most logical, well thought out argument falls flat in the face of an insistent beeping. Set a timer and tell your child the electronic device turns off when the buzzer sounds. Then blame it on the timer, “I’m sorry, Johnny. The buzzer says your time is up.”
  5. App Approval. All the devices in my house are set up with password protection that requires my kids to get my permission (and password) to download any app.
  6. Public places. Devices belong in common living spaces – period. No arguments. That way nothing happens that you can’t know about.

Now these may not entirely slay your “Device Monster,” but you’ll at least be one step ahead the next time it rears it’s ugly head in your household.

What are your secrets for controlling the use of electronic devices in your household?

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