Planning Ahead for School Year Screen Rules
By Sandy Schroeder
Before we know it, fall will come rushing in and all of the school schedule questions will come up. Recently I read a middle school teacher/mom's take on screen-time rules for middle-school kids, and thought it might be worth passing along.
Rebecca Young of CommonSenseMedia.com suggested, "Kids need to manage their online activities, and parents need to help them do it." As a mom and a teacher, Young said she saw great students slide backwards once they were caught in online evening activities that their parents were only vaguely aware of.
They came to school yawning and muddled their way through the day until she talked with the parents and the kids about their nighttime schedules. It turned out, many of the parents did not realize how late their kids were staying up playing games online, or thought they had it under control.
As a mom, Young worked on her own rules with her daughter to achieve a screen-time balance they could both live with. Here are a few tips to consider before you and your kids come face-to-face with the issue in the fall.
Check out what they are doing - If they are just starting middle school, things may be changing. Now they may be testing the boundaries and trying to keep up with their friends. Actually check to see what your child is playing and when.
Take charge of the action - If the situation seems totally out of control you may have to take all screens out at night and store cellphones in a locked charging box until morning. They won't say so, but they may be relieved to get back to a normal schedule with enough sleep.
Take charge of the Wi-Fi - Give kids passwords to the internet and put a time limit on when they can be used. Be aware some savvy kids will figure out ways to bypass the controls.
Change the setting - Kids sometimes say they have online homework, which actually turns out to be a session of games. Setting up homework spots in the family room or dining room could make this easier to control.
Help them unplug - Some parents reserve game screen time for the weekends, or limit the amounts during the week after homework. See what's comfortable and stick with it to turn it into an accepted routine.
All of this being said, every family is different, and you probably already have some ideas on what works best at your house. Give it some thought now and be ready when reality sets in with school schedules, homework, and a dozen other things. Good luck!
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