We all live in a fast-paced era of computers and electronics. Many families struggle with the proverbial tail wagging the dog. Is that your home?
“Jason? Dinner, son.” His dad called out from downstairs, while Jason continued gaming on his computer in his bedroom. A pile of homework lay untouched on his desk next to his bed.
“Jason! Come on, son. Don’t let your dinner get cold.” Jason could hear frustration in his dad’s voice. He called out, “Okay, Dad. In a minute. Just let me get to where I can pause this game.”
“No, son. Now! Put the game up and get down here.” Jason paused his game and started downstairs. “Geez, Dad. Don’t get your panties in a wad.”
This kind of hassle and disrespect on both sides can be eased with a few additional house rules. Computers, cell phones, smart phones all have great, unbelievable benefit to our lives. Research, information, and fun are all easier, faster, and more readily available. The question is, though, at what cost? When electronics interfere with, or take the place of, relationships, especially in your family, it’s time for a family meeting. Talk about the impact, the trade-off, the needs and feelings, and find a way to safeguard family and relationship while also benefitting from all of these electronics.
Currently, there is a Wait Until 8th movement that encourages parents to not get their younger children smart phones until at least they are in the 8th grade. Some phone services offer contract plans with GPS, texting and calling only to specified numbers, but no apps. A Colorado physician who instigated Parents Against Underage Smart Phones (known as PAUS) found that 13-15 million kids in the US are on devices without content restrictions. Parliament in the country of Ireland passes a law this year, The Internet Access for Minors Law, 2017, where parents can be fined when found that their children under age 14 are on internet enabled devises unsupervised.
A couple of suggestions for kid-friendly, family-friendly use of electronics. First, limit gaming to 1 hr/day for children and only after homework and other duties are completed. Second, have as many family meals together as you can, and have them without electronics. Finally, collect electronics from your children at bedtime, so they can enjoy more and longer quality sleep. Return them in the morning.
Consider these rules for electronics in your family and you will find both respect and relationships dramatically improving.