How much "screen time" do you give your kids?
That is, how many hours a week of television do you allow? Do they have a tablet or smartphone, or at least regular access to one?
Our 3- and 1-year-old will watch a kid show every now and then, officially they have no screen time other than in the car when Mom or Dad need some solitude.
By my 11- and 12-year-old boys ... this is increasingly a struggle. Each have friends who have their own phones, tablets or portable gaming devices. They, too, have their own tablets thanks to the generosity of a great uncle and aunt, but they are older. In fact, they can keep and play only one game due to the memory and processor limitations. But with regard to time, our current rule is 90 minutes during the week, 90 minutes over the weekend.
We're pretty strict about it, especially when it comes to computers and tablets and phones. Articles like this one keep the fear of God in us.
We do make an exception for Dallas Cowboys games. What kind of father would I be?
This worked well for a time, but it didn't take long for them to point out our hypocrisy. Their father has a job that requires constant attention to a screen. Their mother works from home and communicates constantly with clients. Why do we have no limits on our screen time?
This back-and-forth led to the best parenting decision we've made as of late.
Monday-Friday, Mom and Dad put their phones away from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Sometimes we have to take a call or even make a call, but pretty much every text can wait. Every interaction on Facebook can wait. Every Instagram comment can wait. Every email can wait.
As it turns out, modeling is far more powerful than lecturing.
And, our kids love us. They love being with us. We about can't get them to leave us alone. We've played more board games, card games, and the like than I can recall. Ask me anything about Pokemon or Star Trek or chess. I dare you.
Don't miss this: my 11- and 12-year-old boys love nothing more than being with their parents in their bedroom playing cards until well past their bed time.
We are not stellar parents. We have issues on top of issues.
But this decision to do away with our screens at 5:00 PM ... best parenting decision we've ever made.
Maybe I won't need these after all.