Dear Aunt Sevvy,
During these summer months I’m struggling with my kids and all the time they have. I’m working and I often take them to the office with me. But on the weekends I need to get stuff done around the house. I’m a single mom, so I don’t get any help. So while I clean and fix meals, they’re spending too much time watching TV, playing Nintendo games, and messing around on the iPad. I want them to detach from these things, but every time I try they make life so miserable asking for their screens that I eventually give up in exasperation just so I can get done what I need to do. What’s your advice?
Screentime is a hugely debated topic, falling often along generational lines. Older people who were raised without screens believe they are uncategorically bad, while younger parents see many benefits.
Aunt Sevvy believes that limits need to be in place for kids being raised in this digital world. Of course, if modern children were being raised completely without screens they might have the idealized childhood of their grandparents, but they would also be at a huge disadvantage when they grew up and had to navigate the electronic world that makes up the social relationships and workplaces of today.
Children can learn a great deal from educational shows and games, and there’s something socially bonding about being a part of a generational trend, even if that trend is as weird as watching other people make slime on youTube. There’s also, of course, the benefit for parents that their kids can be occupied for a few minutes while parents need to get things done.
Aunt Sevvy suggests creating a loose summer schedule, such as no screens in the house until a set time, like 2 PM. They can be given a list of tasks to accomplish before screentime such as reading, picking up their room, wiping the counters in the bathroom, playing outside, or reading a book.
These kinds of things are difficult for kids to adjust to. Prepare yourself for some fighting and challenging days. Give it about five days, and they’ll stop asking. Kids with limits are happier kids, and we as adults know that it isn’t healthy for them to be staring at a screen from sunup to sundown even if they think that’s what they want.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without your identity. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.