As I prepared to write about the topic of technology limits, it is difficult because I do not want to come across as judgmental because as a mom, I know limits are important, but enforcing them is a battle and it is hard.
Parents, I want you to think back to junior high. For most people, junior high is terrible. Junior high was no different for me and I am 41 years old, but I still remember that we were not kind to each other in junior high. We were mean to our classmates. I remember prank calling people, putting glue on a chair, people punching others behind the teacher’s back and one of my favorite memories was the time we convinced the whole class during break time to all put David on the top of our math assignment. The assignment was hard and most of us knew we would have to do corrections, but if we all put one kid’s name on it then maybe teacher would throw them all away. I’m pretty sure that is not how the teacher responded. I do remember that at the end of every day I went home, and I had little to no contact with classmates until I returned to school the next day.
If you were in junior high in 2018, I can almost guarantee that many of the experiences would be the same. Students are still mean to each other. In full disclaimer, when I was in junior high, we were not mean, we were “funny,” but it was at the expense of our classmates. In junior high today, students make sarcastic statements, have looks, and still do goofy things but there is a big difference between today and in the 80’s, even the 90’s.
Students are not going home and unwinding, the device in their pocket is buzzing close to 20 hours a day.
Your child may not be the one sending a snap chat at 1AM, but I’m pretty sure they have at least one friend that is awake and sending things in the middle of the night. If a child has a bad day, and they all have bad days, but because of cell phones, they are not learning to decompress or unwind. I believe that is part of the reason we are seeing high rates of depression and even suicide in teenagers today. We are hurting our children emotionally because they are not getting a mental break from drama amongst their peers.
Limits starts with toddlers and it goes all the way until they are 18. I cannot remember the last time I went to the grocery store and didn’t see a toddler sitting in a grocery cart with a cell phone or iPad. In America, we struggle setting limits.
Under the age of 12, an electronic device should not be a routine, habit, or even a daily occurrence. If you cannot say no when they are young, how will you say no when they are 13? It is very important that children learn how to do things for themselves, learn how to use their imagination, be active, and have conversations with others.
For everyone else, limits are just as important, and you have to make a plan that you can enforce. I know there are a lot of “recommended” charts are out there but shred them and create your own and ease into it.
Here are a few starting ideas for you to build from:
Remember that if a contract is created, it must have a line with the consequence if a rule is broken.
God gave us the blessing of being a parent, and I know firsthand that it is hard some days. Just remember that you are raising the parents of your grandchildren. I once had a wise woman challenge me to think of the difference of being an authority and being a best friend to your child. If you are the authority for 18 years, you will have a best friend for life. If you have a best friend for the first 18 years, your child will struggle with everything for most of their life.
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