I’m sure you’ve never said these words before, but if you visit my house…occasionally…sometimes…perhaps you might hear me
yell scream gently ask (through gritted teeth): “Would you PLEASE put your phone down?!”
And sometimes…when I have to say that over and over and over…it gets on my nerves.
Of course I know I’m not alone in this–the truth is, I hear this complaint from parents allofthetime.
This generation of kids have become more and more attached…(dare I say addicted) to their devices.
(and so have we, but it’s easier to talk about the kids, right?)
Whether they’re scrolling through instagram, watching YouTube videos, texting friends, or playing anther game (“Mom–I have to water my crops!!” “Wait, I just found another Pokemon!”) It never ends! And we all know that technology has plenty of positive things to offer, but man oh man these devices can be a time-sucker and a huge frustration to families.
Rather than complaining and nagging endlessly, I am trying to find some practical ways to get our kids to put the devices down. Here’s a list of five things we are doing to provide some healthy boundaries for our kids with their phones and devices.
Hope one or two of them help you too.
1. Create a family turn-in location and post the rules. This may be the simplest solution, yet the last thing most parents try. Kids do NOT need a phone next to them while they’re doing homework. Or device at the dinner table. Or in their bedroom. If you’re letting them keep their devices at night, you’re asking for trouble. My suggestion: Simply establish a central place where all devices can be left and charging at designated times. Then determine what your rules are. Yes, you can have different rules for the teenager from the ten-year old. Set the rules and stick with them.
Also: Establish consequences for breaking the rules! If teenagers need to turn phones in at 9:00 PM (which is our family rule) and at 9:30 PM they’re in their room with their phone, then they should lose it for the next day. (or you choose the best consequence.) Be firm and be consistent and I guarantee they’ll learn to follow the rules.
PS Having the central turn-in spot also makes it easy for you to scroll through their recent feed, text messages, etc., which I highly recommend, but something I tend to forget if the phone isn’t in an easy place for me to get to.
2. Offer alternatives. Why not compete with the lure of the device by showing your kids how much fun life can be UN-plugged. Offer some non-electronic options and make family life fun again. Grab a deck of cards, a puzzle, a game, or some art supplies and get the family to do things together. (of course if the weather cooperates I suggest getting outside to play together.) Honestly, when my boys get on a roll with a deck of cards, they totally forget their phones. (just imagine.) But the interesting thing is if we don’t direct them there, they’re naturally drawn back to the habit of their devices every single time.
3. Lead by example…In other words: Put your own phone down! How many times have I snapped, “Put your phone away!” while peering over the top of my own? (ouch, guilty.) We all know the saying: ‘kids will learn more from what we DO than what we SAY’. So let’s all work on being intentional about using our phones and putting them away.
4. Give them more to do. This winter I’ve been reading another one of the Little House in the Big Woods books to Levi, and it’s made me begin to think I might be raising a bunch of wimps! haha. Seriously, back in the prairie days, even the little kids were up in the dark, working in the freezing winters, helping parents…In fact, IF they got to go to school they were lucky! Hard work was a part of life. (Boy have things changed, right?) Of course I’m glad that our kids don’t have to work that hard to survive any more, but perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. (Do I hear an amen?)
We use a family chore list which definitely helps, but we are working on assigning our boys extra jobs (some paid, some not) when we can. Bottom line: A little hard work will NOT hurt our kids, and if you’re sick of your kids vegging out on their devices all of the time — a little work might be the perfect cure.
5. Challenge and reward: Offer your kids a challenge or incentive for unplugging more and finding positive things to do with their time. You might challenge them to read a certain number of pages or to learn a new song on their instrument, or create something beautiful in the time they would normally be scrolling through instagram or playing a game. Turn it into a family contest or offer a reward for being on their phones an hour less a day for a full week. In the end they might just realize how much more time they have when they re not busy staring at a screen.
There are plenty of creative approaches we might take to regain some balance when it comes to our kids and devices. I’d love to hear any tactics that your family might be using too. So comment and share! ALSO: I’d love to know what part of kids and devices is the most challenging for you: A certain time of day? Gaming? Social media? Let’s chat in comments!
And as always, I’d love for you to share this post using social media buttons below. Mahalo!
Until next time…much Aloha,