Does any family really need to make a 'media use plan'?
2 experts and 1 parent have answered
It's been suggested by US paediatricians that parents write up a media use plan for their families, outlining when and how kids can access the web and use electronic devices. Personally, I would tattoo 'click here' across my forehead before implementing such a thing in my home.
Here's why: I'm as IT-dependant as my son. I'm online pretty much from the moment I get up to when I go to sleep – I even have an app that records any talking I do IN my sleep. For me to put set-in-stone limits on his usage would be hypocritical – not to mention impractical. What happens when he needs to look up something for homework, but has used up his allocation of screen time? Or when we need to pull something off the school website, but, hey ho, no, sorry, you were on there for an hour already today.
OK, I exaggerate, as obviously the thinking behind the idea is to make kids aware of their usage, and put boundaries in place. But as a parent, even that irks me: I should be taking control of those things. A policy doc. should not be necessary. I am running a family home, not a government department.
We know kids will spend too much time online if we let them. But if we are honest, we also know that it suits us as parents to sometimes allow them to spend that time online. Parenting has to be elastic. 'Plans' and 'timetables' are for schools and institutions; homes should have boundaries, granted, but they should be flexible ones that can be pushed and explored until happy mediums are reached. And on stressy 'I need some piece and quiet' days, they should go out of the window altogether.
A media use plan would not be worth the paper it was written on in my home; it would be mocked and ignored. Unless of course it was online… ('but I’m just looking up how much time I’ve got left...')
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The answer to this question is a simple yes. It may not be written on paper, or a part of a biblical study but there must be rules. Yes, there needs to be limits put on children. As a parent it is your right and responsibility to put limits on your children.. and no it is not hypocritical that you use technology more than they do. Please remember you are the parent and your children are not your equal. You, as a parent, more than likely do not have bed time or homework time etc. as children do. Call it a plan, call it a procedure, call it what you want but in the end you already have a variety of "plans" that are set up for your children. You need to include the plan (procedure, rule, expectation) for media usage.
However, you must also be careful how you limit technology and what exactly goes into a media usage plan. For example, in my home, technology is not touched until homework is complete. But, if the need the technology to do their homework then that is obviously OK. Our "plan" if you want to call it that, also includes:
No technology at the dinner table
When it is bed time, technology goes off
If you want to use technology then you must be responsible to charge it.
There is a lot more about when a child is actually on the internet for safety sake but that is an entirely different question.
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I completely agree with Kelly. We live in a home with our children who simply are not controlled by documents, but by their parents.
It just seems too rigid. I think that it's important for parents to think about how their kids are using technology and how often, but it needs to ebb and flow with the needs of the kids and the family.
I am glad that there is an understanding in the report of the importance of technology for kids and the fact that it's ubiquitous and necessary. I just think that this type of report comes from a place that already assumes technology is bad as opposed to neutral.