This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of TOPs Balance. All opinions are 100% mine.
It’s Saturday morning, a day of rest and relaxing. Or at least that’s the theory. My bedroom door flies open and my sons run in. “Can we play games? Can we play games? Can we play games?” No “good morning”, no “hello, I love you mum!” no snuggles or cuddles. I find it beyond frustrating that my kids are so addicted to those little electronic devices, mobile phones.
There is no doubt that we live in the modern age of technology and “devices”. Years ago, when my son was little more than a year old, he could access an iPhone without any help. Now my children seem to be addicted to playing games on any device they can get their hands on, iPods, iPhones, iPads. Even though we have screen rules, they still nag and nag to play games on a cell phone.
It drives me crazy.
They are not alone. More and more people, adults, teens and kids spend hours and hours on mobile devices. You know what? I know about it, I know how addictive they are, I try hard to restrict my own phone use but at times I find myself reaching for it just because I’m bored. I too am hooked to my phone.
So how do you find balance? How can you balance allowing your kids time to play on mobile devices without it taking over? Without your kids getting addicted to playing on your iPhone?
Addictive Mobile Devices
According to a recent CNN story:
“Half of teens think they’re addicted to their smartphones”.
A new poll by Common Sense Media (a nonprofit that focuses on helping kids, parents, teachers and policy makers negotiate media and technology) confirming just how much teens depend on their phones is slightly shocking.
The poll found that fifty percent of teens feel they are attached to their mobile devices. A large number of parents, 59%, said their teens were addicted. The poll involved 1,240 interviews with parents and their children, ages 12 to 18.
According to NBC News, teens spend nine hours a day in front of screens and children ages 8-12 spend six hours. Wow! That’s amazing and horrifying.
Mobile Devices Can Be Educational
But, mobile devices ARE fun and they can be educational. The American Association of Paediatrics used to recommend that kids only have 2 hours of screen time a day. They have recently revised this advice saying that screen time can be educational. However, they DO emphasise that kids need to be mobile and physically active, not just sit there like a sack of potatoes exercising their thumbs.
How Can I Help My Kids Balance Real Life with Cell Phone Use?
Do not despair! It is possible to enjoy an active and healthy life and still let your kids enjoy time on mobile devices. And for that time to be educational. Win win win!
- Get Active. Make sure your kids do something active frequently. Even if it’s just 10 star jumps every half an hour, bodies need to move and habits form young. So get them in the habit of being active. I aim for 10 minutes of running around in every hour. It’s good to break up screen time rather than allow your kids to sit there for hours and hours.
- Work First. If your kids have homework, reading, house work to do, make sure they do it before they get on the mobile device.
- TOPs Balance Educational Unlock Device. When your child unlocks the device, they are given a “knowledge burst” (a 10-second infusion of grade-specific educational content) prior to unlocking the home screen. Parents can set the delivery method to either high intensity or low intensity. My son has been trying it recently and he loves it.
- Not Right Before Bed. Kids need sleep and screens can keep you awake. Not only do you get addicted to whatever you’re doing, the artificial light can interfere with your sleep patterns. Best not to use mobile devices for the hour before you go to sleep.
- Set Family Rules Perhaps they have to behave well during the week, not squabble and bicker with each other to be allowed the privileged of playing with a mobile. Or actually turn it off when their time is up. Set rules and stick to them.
- Agree Limits. When children nag it’s easy to slip into letting them spend hours and hours playing on a mobile device. If you agree what the limits are, there is no room for manoeuvre. Just calmly state the limits.
- Natural Stop. My kids get so frustrated when they have to stop a game in the middle of a level. I give them a 5 minute warning before they have to stop. Enough time to get to the end of a level. When that time is over, they know they have to turn it off. And if they don’t, they get 10 minutes deducted from their next allocated session.
- Family Fun Time. Spend your weekends doing fun family activities. We love roller skating, walking, swimming. Have fun being active together and your kids will get into healthy habits. Then you won’t worry about them chilling out for a bit on a mobile device.
- Smart Phone Free Time If you have older children who are more in control of their own phone, it’s good to teach them to have some smart phone free time to show them that the world does continue even when they aren’t hooked up.
“Did you know that you produce 10 billion gallons of saliva in your life time?…I reckon that if you eat enough cherries, it would be purple spit!” He says as he plops another cherry into his mouth.
(The TOPs Balance app is available in both the App Store and the Google Play Store for $4.99. As an introductory offer, the app will be available for FREE at the App Store. The idea is provide educational content to help combat technology addiction and cell phone addiction )
A Bit of Peace and Quiet
At times I’m tempted to ban mobile devices for good. As appealing as it is, I know that I never would. I know that mobiles are educational, but you know what? I have a confession to make. Mobile devices also earn us parents a short time of peace and quiet. Why do you think my kids have got into the habit of asking for them on Saturday morning? Precisely because their exhausted parents want them to be quite for a little longer.
Remember when a “lie in” was exactly that? You could actually sleep until midmorning without a child landing on your head. Times change and now we all snuggle in bed, my husband and I, bleary eyed, sipping coffee whilst our kids battle strange monsters in silent mode.
Letting your kids play with mobile devices and earning a little well earned rest is fine, as long they don’t get addicted, as long as we can teach our kids to use mobile phones sensibly, as long as we can find balance between real life and cell phone addiction.