Our Homeschooling Journey: Screen Time

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When I was younger, I made a promise to myself that I will not allow my kid to hold a mobile phone until she's old enough to understand what she will watch. I didn't have a kid yet at the time. Now that I have a daughter, I took back that promise. It turns out screen time proved helpful in my daughter's development.

From the time she was born, I played Cocomelon to her while I try to work my way around the house. I used to be a working mom then. When she was learning to say words and read letters, I played Dave and Ava to her. When she was learning melodies, dancing, and jumping around, I played nursery rhymes to her from Youtube. Now that she's in preschool, I let her watch Science, English, Math, Arts, Music, and General Knowledge videos both in Netflix and Youtube.

Back in my youth, I remember a quote from a book I read from one of my favorite authors.

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There are three parents of our generation. The father, the mother, and the commercials or media. So if the first two are weak, they will be robbed of the third in raising the child. ”

When I read this book, I said I won't be weak and I won't give in to my kid asking for screen time. All those times, I sat there, judging every parent I see giving their kids their mobile phone while they go on with their business, eating, getting their groceries and what have you. Yes, I used to be that judgemental non-parent watching parents, eyeing them, judging them, scrutinizing them by the way their kids behave in public. I didn't know better. I did not know about the struggles that a parent has to go through once their kid is born. And how endless that struggle seemed to be to them. I did not know back then. Now I know. To the parents I judged before, I am terribly sorry.

Now that I'm on the other end of the spectrum, I understand the necessity of having to give children some screen time. But as always, the rule of thumb is too much of something is never good. Unlike before, I now believe that media like Youtube, Netflix, and the likes have an important role in the brain development of children. Especially now that museums are closed, the closest my kid has to a field trip is Blippi, Octonauts, and Wild Kratts. I have developed some ways on how to keep the kid happy and still have fun even when we're trapped at home while still ensuring that screen time is at an acceptable limit.

Set a time limit
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This is the first and most important thing to do if you want to make sure your kid doesn't get sucked into the screen realm. I have a very specific and very strict time limit for mobile phone playtime for my kid. I set a 30-minute alarm and as soon as the alarm sets off, she needs to stop whatever progress she's doing in her game, and lock the screen, and hand over the phone back to me. I may be just lucky that my kid obeys this rule every time but just to be sure, I talk to her intently before I start the mobile game's timer. Make sure that it is clear to the kid that once the time is up, the game should be paused/stopped, otherwise, they won't have screen time allocation for the following day. As always, a positioning statement is important. Instead of saying "You need to stop as soon as possible, or else you're not going to have mobile playtime again tomorrow" I say "Once the time is up, we stop the game then we can play again tomorrow."

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Variation

There was a time when my kid got used too much to watching Youtube and Netflix on the computer. We used our TV as a second monitor to our desktop and that's where she watches her videos. It's fine for me as long as she's watching educational videos but her father wants to make sure she has some sort of physical activities in between. So in between episodes and videos, they get toys like balls, gloves, punching bags, jumping rope, and sometimes they simply play tag for a bit before returning to their routine.

Set non-negotiable "No Screen time" moments throughout the day

My husband has a strict rule of no screen time during mealtime. Additionally, no screen time before bedtime is also a rule for my daughter. We also established reading time which is strictly reading time for physical books. I've bought lots of books from online sales, book sales on malls, and even when there's no sale, as long as it's a new book, it goes to my cart.

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Allocate enough playtime
This is the only moment when I allow messiness around the house. Kids have a messy way of having fun so just let them be. I used to be so bummed out with all the toys hanging around all over the house, now, I understand it's part of their fun. To lessen my stress, I taught my kid to make sure to put away the toys once she's done with playtime. And when it's playtime, make sure either the mom or the dad is present to play along. I notice my kid is happiest when both I and my husband are there during playtime. I like introducing our classic games to my daughter like jackstone, pick-up sticks, marbles, Chinese garter, and so much more. That, aside from all the other street games I used to playback in the day.

Filter the videos
Whenever we see something new on Netflix Kids, I and my husband watch it first to see if the movie is age-appropriate. Every Saturday is date night so we watch it together for our movie date in the living room. We watch for the values and morals in the movie's message, Us parents are the first line of defense when it comes to the food our kids feed their minds. We need to make sure that what they see, hear, and understand are all aligned to the values we hold dear. As much as possible, we try to watch along with our kid as well. This way, we catch anything in the video that needs to be addressed immediately, plus it's additional bonding time too.

While all of these are not applicable to everyone, these are just a few things that we were able to come up with to ensure that there is balance when it comes to our kid's screen time behavior. These days, I've been a little bit lenient when it comes to my kid's screen time. This is because we have already instilled in her the important things she needs to remember when it comes to screen time rules.

We can't really say kids can't have this or that much screen time nowadays. We just have to find the balance. Too much screen time and it's not good for their health. Deprive them of it and they miss out on potential discoveries and learnings they may find. We live in times where technology is a part of our life. Screen time is now a necessity for kids. Not too much though, just enough, supervised, filtered screen time should suffice.

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@romeskie is a full-time stay-at-home mom to a homeschooling toddler. Loves crocheting as a hobby. Maintains a mini food forest, aiming to grow more to achieve that farm-to-table homesteading. Learned how to cook after leaving the corporate world to take care of her family and is now starting to acquire basic baking skills. Learn more about her adventures and misadventures in the world of motherhood.
Connect with her through her Facebook Page: The Leftie Crocheter and on Instagram. Feel free to subscribe to her Youtube Channel: The Leftie Crocheter

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