It happened suddenly. I observed my younger children excited to use their kiddie tablets and swipe their touch screens for learning games or to binge-watch their favorite YouTube personalities.
I witnessed the histrionics when anyone in my family was unable to locate their cell phone, tablet, or the television remote. It was during these moments that I decided it was time to admit our overreliance on electronic devices and limit our screen time as a united front.
No, I'm not taking our family back to the Stone Ages before the boom of technological advances in software, the internet, and other computer technology. I'm an 80's baby who saw first-hand the meteoric rise of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices—with children who know nothing about internet dial-up! I'm just a mom who wants her kids to become more centered and in tune with the world around them, engage fully with family members and friends, understand the “real” world outside the digital domain, and remain safe and alert without their faces locked to a screen. I believed we as a family could benefit from a screen break to focus on the reality of one another.
Leading By Example
During these current times, anyone in business wishing to grow their platform and market their brand faces pressure to put themselves out there online—with social media as the guiding force. In the early stages of my budding career as a speaker, writer, and blogger, I found myself constantly on my cell phone or laptop wishing to engage through social media while also juggling my most important role within my family. As a former stay-at-home mom tasked with tackling other important responsibilities at home, it simply wasn’t in my budget to hire a marketing team. I've learned there will always be an overzealous empowerment person out there jumping at the chance to say you need to do this or that to be great at posting, researching competitors, editing, producing, etc. But you only have one family, and they need you the most. I've had the great fortune of enjoying a balance that allows me to share quality time with my children alongside many professional opportunities within the platform I'm passionate about. I don't want my children to remember me as a mom who just sat on the couch, swiping endlessly on her phone. I don't want to miss their greatest moments while I’m checking a Facebook update. I don't want them to assess their own personal value in watching their mother do the same by counting her social media likes.
Here are a few strategies I've implemented (and some on the docket) here at home to limit our family's screen time and in turn become more engaged as a family:
Remove all cell phones and tablets from the vicinity of the bed during nighttime hours.
All electronic devices must be “turned in” by a designated time before bed. I am a tad more lenient during the summertime but firm in my decision because we all sleep better when our devices are hidden.
Electronic devices are not allowed at the dining table during mealtime.
Follow the recommended national guidelines for screen time use as a family.
Devices are not allowed while entertaining family and friends, as it’s important to show respect and stay present.
Specific times and limits are set for recreational social media activity. Upon finding myself mindlessly scrolling Facebook and Instagram, I’ve realized this can quickly go from fun to bringing out unwanted feelings of unhealthy or unrealistic comparisons and expectations.
Set a specific time to open and respond to emails, texts, and direct messages. Trust me: blocking out spam emails and limiting distractions/unwanted conversations is an energy-saving endeavor.
Participate in more fun activities that keep you off of your electronic devices. My girls love visual arts activities, and my son loves playing sports. I like surrounding myself with nature. These activities keep us offline for a while because we are engaged in doing what we love.
Everyone in the house...pick up a real book! I love the ability to check out informative articles, books, and other forms of literacy online, but it's also great to pick up something to read that you can physically feel. We have several bookshelves and magazine racks here at our home. When we see books, we read them!
Download and print pictures of your special moments from your electronic devices so you can equally reflect on those moments together as a family. I doubt my twin six-year-olds will check out my Instagram posts!
Minimarie is a mother, fine arts educator, writer, and empowerment speaker. She is the founder of Purpose Filled Mommy with Minimarie. It is her personal passion to encourage women and mothers to enrich their lives. You can follow her transparent journey at https://linktr.ee/purposefilledmommy