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#1 of 19 Old 09-24-2013, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was wondering what other parents of teens and pre-teens do about their children's access and time on screen devices. When our oldest children were pre-teens, the internet was new and we had dial up service and they were limited to 15 minutes a day online each.

 

With our youngest child, things are much different. She has her own lap top (pretty much a necessity for kids in Accelerated Programs) but she also has: A tablet (which my mother bought her without asking me) an iPod that connects to the internet and last week we all got Smart Phones.

 

Last school year, despite usually being a good student our youngest DD, Sage's grades began to drop. As I have said in other posts, she has Tourette Syndrome and Aspergers (despite honest genius level Intelligence) and her Tourette Symptoms had gotten so bad that she was regularly pulling muscles and was diagnosed with a chronic pain disorder, at 12! She also had a lot of choir commitments and was in the school play and had given up on doing homework. Luckily we have a system in our school where the parents can check their child's grades day by day and we caught it early. We got three of her teachers to help with the deficits (one reason was actually not knowing some of the concepts being taught in Algebra because she had missed a lot of school because of the chronic pain) but we also noticed a LOT of time she was spending online. We cut back her screen time, and I made up a contract where she had to sign in and out of each device and limit it to no more than one hour a day, after homework was done. If homework required the internet (which it often does) then we would account for that. I then found that she was going online on her iPod, so I took possession of that until the end of the semester, a period of about a month.

 

So far this year, it seems she has learned from past experience and is not using the tablet at all, and is doing her homework as soon as she gets home. In our Accelerated Program (our schools interpretation of A Gifted Program) home work may take several hours a day and as she is a perfectionist it takes her longer.

 

We have limits on the time online, a contract with sing in & out times and taking possession of the device if things deteriorate.

 

I was wondering what other families are doing with the near omnipresence of devices which connect to the internet.


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#2 of 19 Old 09-24-2013, 01:35 PM
 
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If our kids are self-regulating, then we don't place limits. Generally they are busy kids who do well in school and frankly, don't have a lot of time for TV/computers/ipods/video games.

 

When my eldest was 14, she started abusing screen time. Her grades dropped (for several reasons but all the TV and late night texting didn't help.) We gave her several opportunities to turn things around but when she didn't we took them away and put firm limits on when she had access to them. By 15, she'd turned things around and we haven't had to regulate her since.

 

I suspect my 12 (almost 13) year-old will go through a similar stage but at the moment. It's not an issue. 


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#3 of 19 Old 09-24-2013, 10:43 PM
 
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It sounds like you did a great job and so did she, of recognizing the problem and finding a solution! I have heard of moms who had to sleep with their laptops under their pillows to keep the kids from sneaking them! 

 

In our house we have one family laptop, and my 12 year old has a tablet, and my 9 year old has an ipod touch. And the TV which has no cable or channels, just hooked up to the Wii with Netflix running through it.  After much trial and failure, manipulation by the kids, not enforcing by the adults, we came up with a solution that seems to work.

 

Screen time is allowed from Friday after school through Saturday night.
Also allowed for school holidays up to a point.

Never on Sundays no matter what.

The kids work out a fair Saturday schedule amongst themselves to account for any time away from home.

Music can be listened to on a timer for one hour after bedtime, but cannot look at the screen, must set it away from the bed to avoid temptation.

Computer can be used any time by 12 year old to type school papers but must be used only in livingroom/kitchen area so it's obvious what she's working on.

12 year old's cell phone is turned off at bedtime, or 10 PM on weekends. I use kajeet.com and can control this and many other things about her phone through the company website.

 

Edited to add: It was getting out of hand but now on Sundays I find them doing things that are creative! I do let 9yo make movies with her ipod since that's creative. And I let 12 year old use the computer drawing pad. But no surfing and TV watching.


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#4 of 19 Old 09-24-2013, 11:53 PM
 
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I dont control or limit. DS is 13, homeschooled and I don't see a need to limit his access. He has a tablet, laptop, TV, phone, ipod.  He takes online classes and we are a techie house.  


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#5 of 19 Old 09-25-2013, 04:37 PM
 
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My kids are homeschooled and we are a very techie family. We have laptops, iPads, etc. and have never limited screen time. Both my kids are on the autism spectrum and while they both really love their screen time they also have lots of outside the home activities (not by school kids' standards, mind you, but we are as busy as we like to be, lol). Sometimes they go through phases where they use it alot, other times not so much. They do some really amazing and creative things on computers and such. They lean towards creative games like Minecraft, Roblox, etc. and don't do much "mindless" stuff. I would no more limit screens than I would reading, drawing, or writing, as they do all three of these things and more on their devices...DD is 11, DS is 9. 


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#6 of 19 Old 09-25-2013, 05:50 PM
 
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for the most part, my kids self regulate.

 

however, last year one of my DDs went through a stage (a bit like your DDs) and we had to get super involved for a while. However, she HATED us micromanaging her so much that she quickly seem to learn her lesson and earn a second chance. Now our arrangement is that she needs to maintain a 3.5 GPA with no grade lower than a B (we can check her grades at any time on line) and  she manages her own time.

 

Once this year she came to me and said that her math grade was low, but that she had already setup an appointment with the teacher. I was really happy with this -- with the fact that she was dealing with the situation and that she was honest. As long and she is getting her stuff done that she needs to, getting sleep, and dealing with problems as they come up, there isn't any reason for me to control the internet. Doing what is required to maintain good grades in her classes takes up most of her waking time anyway.


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#7 of 19 Old 10-01-2013, 12:36 PM
 
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:lurk

 I wonder if the techie parents view the issue differently than non techie parents and if so, what do they know that us non techies dont?

I can see how addictive devices can be for my kids (5 and 8) and am wondering how to regulate this issue in the future. Just as pp alluded to above, the technology changes fast. Gone are the days of dial ups, and here are the days of personal devices that access everything and do everything. I dont want to hamper my  potential techy's future by limiting device time, but he seems to go a bit crazy when playing those angry birds for too long, and is never satisfied, always hyped up, and then grouchy when not on the device......

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#8 of 19 Old 10-01-2013, 10:37 PM
 
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I think the word "addictive" gets bandied about a lot. 

 

Take a kid who goes to school 6 hours a day. They may even be in before and/or after school care. Then they have their extracurricular activities. And homework. Between meals and sleeping how much free time do they actually have? If it seems all they want to do is be on their devices maybe it's because their lives are overscheduled and it's the only escape/down time they have? 

 

My kids have always had tons of unstructured free time, more so when they were younger but still lots by the standards of most kids their age. They've had time to have the novelty of new games wear off. There is also the Forbidden Fruit aspect. It is rare to meet a family that treats electronics the same way people treat books or sports. My kids have never, ever experienced screen time as a kind of currency. I think kids pick up on the attitudes of adults that there is somehow something wrong with screen time and so it becomes this thing they know they will have to fight for. I think this can lead to clingy screen behaviours and lack of self-regulation, not wanting to give up a second of what they can get because they never know when it will be limited or taken away.

 

While I do know of some kids who struggle with moodiness, etc when they have been playing too long, these are kids who are in school and/or whose families have already placed limits on screen time and treat it like some kind of luxury or a bad thing, or something to be used as currency to manage behaviour. I don't know any unschooled kids who have unlimited access to screens in families who place no obvious negative values on it who have any issues with "addiction". 

 

It's also really helpful to read about historical attitudes towards reading when books first became widely available. Some of the rhetoric sounds familiar... ;)

 

Just some thoughts....


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#9 of 19 Old 10-02-2013, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I can assure you my kids have never been "over scheduled." My youngest DD is not an extremely social person so she chooses Choir and Theatre as things to help her relate to other children.

I've never used the word "addiction" but teens do tend to not be great self regulators of their time. Also when children are in school they have expectations placed on their time at least in part to prepare them for adult life, when not all of one's time is open to do whatever one wishes.

Having already guided two of our children through their teens I have a pretty good feel of how teens think. Add a teen with Aspergers to the mix and you often have a situation where an adult needs to step in to help teach time management.

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#10 of 19 Old 10-02-2013, 08:55 AM
 
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My kids each get an hour online per day after homework is complete. We usually watch one or two episodes of a TV show after supper (supper is at the table together, adults stay off devices as well) They earn time on the Playstation by doing chores throughout the week which can be 'cashed in' on the weekend. They do not have cell phones. Their MP3 players have a screen but we only load videos on them for a specific time frame and then remove them again. They can listen to music/the radio anytime.


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#11 of 19 Old 10-02-2013, 11:46 AM
 
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I think the word "addictive" gets bandied about a lot. 

 

Take a kid who goes to school 6 hours a day. They may even be in before and/or after school care. Then they have their extracurricular activities. And homework. Between meals and sleeping how much free time do they actually have? If it seems all they want to do is be on their devices maybe it's because their lives are overscheduled and it's the only escape/down time they have? 

 

My kids have always had tons of unstructured free time, more so when they were younger but still lots by the standards of most kids their age. They've had time to have the novelty of new games wear off. There is also the Forbidden Fruit aspect. It is rare to meet a family that treats electronics the same way people treat books or sports. My kids have never, ever experienced screen time as a kind of currency. I think kids pick up on the attitudes of adults that there is somehow something wrong with screen time and so it becomes this thing they know they will have to fight for. I think this can lead to clingy screen behaviours and lack of self-regulation, not wanting to give up a second of what they can get because they never know when it will be limited or taken away.

 

While I do know of some kids who struggle with moodiness, etc when they have been playing too long, these are kids who are in school and/or whose families have already placed limits on screen time and treat it like some kind of luxury or a bad thing, or something to be used as currency to manage behaviour. I don't know any unschooled kids who have unlimited access to screens in families who place no obvious negative values on it who have any issues with "addiction". 

 

It's also really helpful to read about historical attitudes towards reading when books first became widely available. Some of the rhetoric sounds familiar... ;)

 

Just some thoughts....

Yes, they are interesting thoughts.  Im one of those people who resists the term 'addictive' in most things. I dont even think smoking is addictive, and  tv is only mildly addictive, perhaps not even addictive at all except under certain circumstances. However, the games on those devices, angry birds in particular,  seems to play on primal aspects of the brain, and once a game is won, there is a new level, and once all the levels completed, yet more levels, and so on and so on. My kids, in particular my 8yo , becomes quite obsessed, and  truly, never satisfied. In that sense, the game is addictive, in that in essence, he can  never be satisfied. There is no end resolution, there is no progress but always more to do, and an illusion of progress, there is never anything completed, never anything achieved so to speak.  But thats just the game.  I am sure he is learning some important skills there-hand to eye co ordination perhaps, learning about relations between objects that might help him in physics or engineering...maybe.

 

I know what you mean about the downtime. But this started in summer. We had plenty of downtime, and the device kind of took over and seemed to fry ds' brain a bit. I was worried. I wanted him to self regulate. Im a self regulator, he's usually a good self regulator.... we like self regulation here, but not with angry birds.

 

If he was editing a film he made on his device, and had something to show for it at the end, i would feel better about it.... 

 

Or maybe doing some coding?

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#12 of 19 Old 10-02-2013, 04:24 PM
 
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this is interesting. what you define as screen time.

 

because dd and i had a long exploration on this subject a couple of years back. today in middle school its not even a problem just coz hw takes up so much of her life. actually it was never a problem.

 

but earlier inspired by some of the mom's here on this board i tried to limit dd's screen time.

 

dd does a lot of things during her screen time. it is used both as a relaxer and a motivator. she reads on line. she is a manga fiend. and it isnt just reading but thinking about the issues the stories bring up. she plays some games. she also researches. she does silly stuff like funny videos :eyesroll

 

and we discussed and i realized i was wrong to equate screen time to mindless tv time. when dd was home and wasnt interested in things around her she turned to her screen. now here is the thing. once we spent hours and watched a bunch of episodes of doc martin. another time she was so into hominids research that she lived and breathed the computer along with her life. 

 

i will say dd is addicted to the internet as a tool for sure. at her age i did the same thing. except there was no internet then so i studied the britannica. she is addicted to learning. 

 

however in our house the most addictive stuff are books. and yes its an addiction. and sometimes i have to yell at her adn tell her go watch some tv or get online. 


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#13 of 19 Old 10-04-2013, 03:28 PM
 
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W have a new system this fall for our nine year old that's working really well. We developed it with her cooperation and input. Each week, we issue her tickets, each of which is good for 15 minutes of screen time. She has enough tickets for a half hour on school days and 45 minutes each day on the weekend. We distinguish between using the ipad or computer as a tool (research for a school project, creating a book, drawing) and being passive (watching videos, playing games). Tickets only apply to watching and game playing. The occasional family movie is also not included. We also bought her a little timer to keep track of the time.

Our daughter has challenges self regulating her screen time, so these tools help her do that. It also gets us out of the nagging/enforcement role, and it teaches her to delay gratification (if she wants more hours on the weekend, she has to use less during the week) and hopefully is helping her build self regulation skills. I've be surprised at how little I've had to remind her to use the tickets and timer, and how she seems to respond to them. This system might not work for a teen, but for our daughter, it's really working nicely.

By the way, my biggest issue with high amounts of screen time is what she's NOT doing during that time. She isn't over scheduled; I mean stuff like playing with the dog, drawing, helping in the kitchen, reading, etc. Also, we notice negative behavior if she watches much beyond an hour at a time.
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#14 of 19 Old 10-05-2013, 09:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post

 

Take a kid who goes to school 6 hours a day. They may even be in before and/or after school care. Then they have their extracurricular activities. And homework. Between meals and sleeping how much free time do they actually have? If it seems all they want to do is be on their devices maybe it's because their lives are overscheduled and it's the only escape/down time they have? 

 

.....I don't know any unschooled kids who have unlimited access to screens in families who place no obvious negative values on it who have any issues with "addiction". 

 

 

school is 180 days a year (varies slightly by state). There are 365 days in a year.  So the argument that school takes up ALL a kids time is pretty bogus. For example, my DD has 2-7 hours of homework per night (very tough schedule including university level courses). She still finds time to hang out with friends, play D&D, play with the dog, is a ranked player in her favorite on line game, do things with our family, and occasionally even volunteers at the zoo. This is possible because of weekends and summer. :wink

 

I totally disagree with your second statement, but I don't see if the point in turning this into a homeschool debate. We are former homeschoolers, and I think it is the norm for MOST parents to need to figure how to navigate raising a teen in world where media is so omnipresent.  All of us are trying to figure out how to teach our teens to have balance in a world where balance is very difficult. (unless a parent doesn't value balance).

 

I think that part of what makes it challenging is that computers and the internet are increasingly necessary as kids progress in their education, so ultimately kids need to be able to have the internet open and do their work, and ignore all of the fun and social things available.

 

I also think that some of the solutions that work with preteens aren't appropriate or practical for older teens. My highschooler likes to relax after school by checking in with her friends (online) or playing her favorite game (online). Why shouldn't she be able to relax the way she wants to before digging into work? For kids with many hours of study, isn't taking breaks appropriate, even if they want to take those breaks by looking at silly pictures of cats with captions (online)? Although standing over preteens while they are online and making sure they are doing exactly what they are supposed may be fine, it really isn't as teens get older.

 

I don't think there are easy answers. I have found this topic to get more complex, rather than easier, the older my teen get.


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#15 of 19 Old 10-05-2013, 01:07 PM
 
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I also think that some of the solutions that work with preteens aren't appropriate or practical for older teens. My highschooler likes to relax after school by checking in with her friends (online) or playing her favorite game (online). Why shouldn't she be able to relax the way she wants to before digging into work? For kids with many hours of study, isn't taking breaks appropriate, even if they want to take those breaks by looking at silly pictures of cats with captions (online)? Although standing over preteens while they are online and making sure they are doing exactly what they are supposed may be fine, it really isn't as teens get older.

 

I don't think there are easy answers. I have found this topic to get more complex, rather than easier, the older my teen get.

 

I'm starting to get a glimpse of this, even with my 11 year old. I'm not entirely convinced yet, but he seems to think that the other kids are making plans online or on their (smart)phones for the weekend. I have tried to get him to give out our home phone number so he can make plans but apparently it's an embarrassment? I think whats happening is that a lot of kids are socializing online and just never go do stuff but since we don't allow unlimited access, he feels isolated from his friends. We are strict on the opposite things of most parents... my 11 year old can go ride around on his bike, take the bus, go tot he pool for a swim, etc. He never does stuff with other kids because they are all plugged in endlessly but not given any real independence.


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#16 of 19 Old 10-05-2013, 02:08 PM
 
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I don't think there are easy answers. I have found this topic to get more complex, rather than easier, the older my teen gets.

I agree (even though I dont have teens). I  think the issue is however already very complex, and becoming  increasingly so when you factor in the way in which technology impacts every aspect of life and the way it changes constantly.  I feel like i can barely begin to even formulate the question....whether or not its addictive (well the game angry birds certainly is), and how and if one should go about setting limits, is really just beginning to scratch the surface of the issue.

 

I havent found a satisfiying discussion about it anywhere. This one is a little more in depth than most....

 

 

Later...thought i'd add this, because it touches upon some other aspects of the question...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kirk-douglas/will-technology-replace-t_b_4039525.html

 

 

...just realized it was written by Kirk Douglasuhoh3.gif 

 

Heres another one

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-rosen/how-much-technology-shoul_b_3142227.html

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#17 of 19 Old 10-08-2013, 11:33 AM
 
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My 11 year old does not self-regulate. She has ADHD, Tourettes, MDD. On M-W, if she does her chore, exercise, and homework, she gets 30 minutes total screen time. On T-Th she has 2hours of therapy and with homework there is not enough time for chores, let alone screen time. On Fri-Sat-Sun, I am flexible and usually allow 2+ hours screen time. Generally this includes computer (for fun), texting, and TV (movies, we don't have TV). The computer is in the dining room, so I can mostly monitor if she's doing homework that she's not playing games or email.

 

We have been severely opposed to her having a phone, but just recently changed our minds. I feel some regret, but don't know what option would have been best. Where we live, 98% of the kids her age have cell phones. Texting is how they communicate. Social interactions are already a huge problem for her. But we did it for a variety of reasons. Regarding cell phone along with other media access, we are way out of sync with our peers in how we handle this from a parenting standpoint. It's such a problem that I feel like I have no one at all with common enough values to really bounce ideas off!

 

I don't restrict music listening or phone calls (she hates to talk on the phone, so it's not a problem).

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#18 of 19 Old 10-08-2013, 12:12 PM
 
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I'm starting to get a glimpse of this, even with my 11 year old. I'm not entirely convinced yet, but he seems to think that the other kids are making plans online or on their (smart)phones for the weekend. I have tried to get him to give out our home phone number so he can make plans but apparently it's an embarrassment? I think whats happening is that a lot of kids are socializing online and just never go do stuff but since we don't allow unlimited access, he feels isolated from his friends. We are strict on the opposite things of most parents... my 11 year old can go ride around on his bike, take the bus, go tot he pool for a swim, etc. He never does stuff with other kids because they are all plugged in endlessly but not given any real independence.

At least here, that is how kids - my DD is in middle school - arrange IRL plans. That is one of the reasons we decided to get our DD a phone. YMMV

 

I think the tough thing is defining screen time. DD uses her phone to text, Instagram, take photos for a media arts class, listen to music. She is an NPR addict, and spends quite a bit of time listening to shows like RadioLab, which have actually helped her a lot with science class. We don't have regular TV, but watch Netflix through the Wii, with occasional game playing on that or iPad. We have decided on approx. one hour of TV per night for each kid (after homework, after dinner), which is about what we watch as well, but have not put many limits on the phone other than teaching safety, checking geographical settings, etc. and asking DD not to use it at meals, while visiting with family and friends, etc. It's working fine so far. As long as the kids are still doing creative stuff, reading alot (that one is not a problem!), have positive IRL friendships, and are active, I don't consider screen time a problem. My entire living is made by working on a computer, although I am not a techie, so they also see the positives for me - a career that I can do from home thanks to my screens.

 

That said, we had the other discussion about what to do when grades (or other important things) suffer, and in that case I am in favor of limiting, because I do think some devices/games are designed to be "addictive," and kids may need some help regulating. Sometimes I feel that way about myself and the Internet! :innocent


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#19 of 19 Old 10-09-2013, 11:58 AM
 
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I think the tough thing is defining screen time

This is a very important point....

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