I watched the “Weight of the Nation” yesterday
View on YouTube here: Weight of the Nation
I heard concerned parents of overweight children complaining about the amount of time they spent online, and how having screen time stopped them doing exercise:
- Facebooking with their friends, rather than spending real time with people.
- Playing online games or ‘Playstation’ or Wii, rather than sports or playing outside
- Watching TV (often with a TV in their own bedroom) in the evening until they felt like going to sleep.
According to research in this Daily Mail article British children now spend an average of one hour and 50 minutes online and two hours 40 minutes in front of the television every day.
That’s 4 hours in front of a screen each day.
And from the Telegraph “Teenagers spend an average of 31 hours a week online and nearly two hours a week looking at pornography, according to a study.”
Added to that, teenagers often stay awake at night receiving and sending texts, so they end up lacking sleep Texting teenagers who stay ‘on call’ all night pay the price in lost sleep The authors note “A National Sleep Foundation study released this month found that almost one in five teens ages 13-18 are awakened by a phone call, text message, or e-mail at least a few nights a week.”
I don’t know about you – but I find it alarming that children are actually allowed to spend this much time online, or watching TV and texting friends all night. I find it crazy that parents act as if they have no say in the matter. (Who’s in charge again?)
I’m a mother, I have teenagers, I have a say. We do – we all do – and we should for the sake of our children’s health and well-being.
What we do in our house:
We have 2 teens, a just turned 16 daughter and an almost 14 year old son.
No my teenagers are not quiet, introvert, compliant children like I was. They are outgoing, feisty, strong willed, loud, and not scared to speak their minds, or try to shout us down.
Still – we have rules, and we stick rigidly to them. They work.
TV: No TV during the week – that is NO TV Monday – Thursday night. When we first instituted this rule (after noting the research that the more kids watched TV the less likely they were to achieve in tertiary education academically) there was a fuss. But they got used to it. Their behavior improved markedly – I mean a lot – without American sitcoms, the smart mouthed disrespectful talk reduced hugely. Friday, Saturday and Sunday – NO TV before 5.00pm. None after dinner. No TV on Sunday until homework is finished.
Oh and we have just one TV, it’s in the lounge, the kids have to agree to watch the same thing without arguing, they have to learn to work it out and compromise. Hubby and I get to kick them off if we want, not that we do, we tend to just watch one hour a night, despite or maybe because of the fact hubby makes TV for a living.
Computer time: We have one fun computer for the children, it’s set up with KidsWatch. 45 minutes per day during the week, and 1 hour in the weekend. They have to fit their Facebooking, Tumblr and online games into that slot. Do they get extra? – sometimes, depends if homework is done and behaviour is good.
School holidays: They get TV and computer as though it was always a weekend, i.e an hour a day of computer and TV after 5 pm.
Homework: We have a homework computer, set up in my husband’s home office, they get to use that as needed, Facebook is blocked using KidsWatch. The sites they visit can be tracked.
Cellphones: Both kids have their own phone, the phones are not allowed in their bedrooms at night, the sound goes off and they stay in the kitchen. We have strict cellphone etiquette, no phones at the dinner table (for anyone – includes parents). No texting at extended family gatherings, parties or dinners out. Oh and they have to pay for their own texts.
Dinner time: We have dinner together, every night at the dinner table. We talk and laugh, sometimes the kids argue. It’s cool. Some of our childrens’ friends find it very unusual to have a sit down dinner. It is sad that it’s often not the norm. My children cook dinner about once every 2 weeks. They have to make it gluten free.
Children that eat dinner as a family have many academic, social and psychological advantages over those who don’t.
Activity: Fortunately our children like to be physically active, however I’m aware that physical activity often gets dropped by busy teens. We have made it a rule that our children play a sport all year round. My son loves tennis, he plays that all year, plus soccer in the winter. My daughter is soccer mad and trains 2 x week all year round. Even if they were not crazy about sport – they would still have to do it.
Other activities – Games: due to the fact that they don’t have much screen time, they have been introduced to old fashioned games like chess, drafts, monopoly. My dyslexic computer crazy son has found that he is good at chess, and surprisingly scrabble, and at 13 in his first year in high school he joined the chess club, and is so far unbeaten. He goes to chess club once a week and plays games with other chess nuts.
Discipline: Use leverage. What do our kids love most? Computer and TV time. What gets taken away for bad behaviour? Yes – TV and fun computer time. With KidsWatch, it is easy to stop access. Okay if it’s minor they just get sent to their room, it’s not always TV or computer, but it’s great leverage if we need it.
Do our kids complain? Actually no, it’s just the way it is in our house.
Where do you stand? Do you control your kids online time?
Science: Parenting styles, activity levels and screen time in children. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120621130724.htm?