Yana Blog > #parenting, #screentime

Screentime Complex

First of all, sorry about changes to events last weekend.  The Cambridge Carnival was postponed, and the Volpe Block Party was moved to the next day.  Always click thru the button for More Info before you go!  We always try to link to the original event site where we found the event.

Today, I want to talk about screentime.   Believe me, I watch my kids' screentime like a hawk, only second to bedtime on my priority list.  If my husband's away, my kids don't even bother to ask me for TV time: they know exactly where I stand. 

But it's not easy when my husband's here, because he grew up with unlimited TV.  His parents were immigrants who worked 2-3 jobs to put food on the table.  So my husband was a latchkey kid growing up, in charge of his younger brother no less.  He'd tell me stories about being 6-7 year old, and cooking steak-umm for his brother.  A little TV?  that's the last thing anyone worried about.

My poor husband!  But times change, now we have a more comfortable life style, and like other middle class moms, I worry about my kids' getting too much screentime, such that they ruin their eyesight, have poor emotional management, and lack interest in off-screen life.  You know, all the stuff you read about online on the evils of screentime. 

I admit, I have a complex relationship with screentime.  Probably no surprise to other moms, it is by far the best way to motivate my son to do things.  For example, last December I found he didn't learn how to type despite the teacher saying they would have a chance to in 3rd or 4th grade.  So I told him the only way to earn screentime is to do Typing.com lessons.  Three lessons equals 15 minutes of Minecraft.  

The result?  He learned how to type in a month.  

And a few months ago, I realized my son's so close yet not able to read Chinese on his own despite years of Chinese Immersion. The problem is he didn't know about 15-25% of the characters in a Chinese book for kids, and he lacks practice on the characters he did know.  Reading in English is so much easier, so he'd just choose that.  So I switched the screentime reward to now be for reading 5 pages of Chinese.  It did help also that I found Diary of Wimpy Kids in Chinese, which he was interested in.

The result: he's much more fluent in Chinese reading now.  If he doesn't know a character, he'll just guess, most of the time successfully.  I hear him laughing while reading Chinese books.  (Okay still with reward.)

Darn it!  You can't argue with results. :(

How do you feel about kids' screentime?  (Also, ideas for motivating kids & avoiding the evil of screentime?)

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