The Technology Challenge

Try "screen-free" days ...

Technology is a part of life and can provide positive benefits. Yet it has to be managed or it will manage us.

Many parents have observed a correlation between the amount of time our children are engrossed in the screen before them and the tendency to be withdrawn or exhibit negative behaviours. Screens are of course ubiquitous - in phones, tablets, television and more. The technology challenge starts young as our children see and want our phones for texting and tablets to watch video clips etc. What to do?

The approach may vary with age. Some families are experimenting with "screen free" days and finding children less tense, more interactive and peaceful as the number of screen hours are reduced.

Some parents make "screen free" days the norm, with Saturday, for instance, being the day screens are available. This is not a punishment for bad behaviour but a life-style choice. Screens may be used for work or essential communication but not for entertainment or random surfing. That way the majority of life is screen free, without the practice feeling negative.

Younger families may want to combine this with giving a fixed number of tokens each Saturday evening (e.g. 10 tokens representing a fixed amount of screen time to be engaged the next Saturday. Bad attitude or behaviour during the week could reduce the number of tokens or good behaviour increase the number of tokens.

This or any adaptation requires energy and discipline to be applied consistently and is against the stream of our culture and world. But our goal is not to be swept along with the current of our culture but to make the choices that are best for our children.