Managing Screen Time for Children During Christmas Holidays

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Children and Screens – Winning the Battle over Temper Tantrums

THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Screen time and the holidays. It used to be that family would sit around and talk. Stories were shared an memories remembered. Today, sadly much of Christmas is only about the screen. Television screens with endless movies, tablets and endless and often mindless time wasting. To get things back into balance is not easy.

Managing screen time for children, especially during holidays like Christmas, can be challenging.

Many younger parents especially seem fixated on social media. Remember there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the social media scroll. Learn to set an example yourself.

There are some surprising role models you might not know about. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Both Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple, two major figures in the technology industry, were known to have set limits on their children’s screen time. Here are some specifics:

  1. Bill Gates: Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, mentioned in various interviews that he and his wife set strict limits on screen time. They didn’t allow their children to have mobile phones until they were 14 and also set rules about no screen time during meals. Additionally, they monitored their children’s screen usage and set curfews for bedtimes to encourage healthier habits.
  2. Steve Jobs: Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, was also reported to have been very strict about how much time his children spent with technology at home. In a 2010 interview with The New York Times, Jobs mentioned that his kids hadn’t used the newly released iPad at that time. He emphasized the importance of limiting technology use at home, which was somewhat surprising given his role in promoting advanced technology to the world.

These practices by Gates and Jobs highlight a common concern among parents, even those who are deeply involved in the tech industry, about the impact of excessive screen time on children’s development. They underscore the importance of setting boundaries and encouraging a balance between screen time and other activities, especially for young children.

Here are some strategies and gift ideas to encourage your grandson to engage in activities beyond his iPad:

Strategies to Limit Screen Time:

  1. Set Clear Boundaries: Establish specific times when the iPad can be used. Consistency is key.
  2. Be a Role Model: Limit your own screen time in his presence. Children often mimic adult behaviour.
  3. Create a Reward System: Offer incentives for time spent off the iPad, like a small treat or extra playtime.
  4. Engage in Activities Together: Plan activities that you can do together, showing that fun can be had without screens.
  5. Understand His Interests: Find out what he likes about the iPad – certain games or shows – and try to find non-digital equivalents.

With Christmas comes a time to shift the paradigm. Instead of a new xbox controller, new video game, or new video console, consider a none screen oriented game.

Christmas Gift Ideas:

  1. Building Sets: LEGO or similar building toys that align with his interests (e.g., space, cars).
  2. Board Games and Puzzles: Age-appropriate games that the whole family can play together.
  3. Books: If he has favourite characters or themes on the iPad, find books related to them.
  4. Outdoor Equipment: A bicycle, scooter, or sports equipment to encourage outdoor play.
  5. Art and Craft Supplies: Depending on his interests, things like drawing sets, model kits, or DIY projects.
  6. Educational Kits: Science kits, robot building sets, or interactive learning tools that are both fun and educational.
  7. Musical Instruments: A beginner’s instrument like a keyboard, ukulele, or a small drum set.
  8. Cooking Kits for Kids: Simple cooking or baking sets that you can use together, making it a fun and rewarding experience.

Managing Temper Tantrums:

  1. Stay Calm: Reacting with frustration can escalate the situation.
  2. Empathize and Communicate: Acknowledge his feelings and explain why screen time needs to be limited.
  3. Distract and Redirect: Suggest an immediate alternative activity.
  4. Consistency in Consequences: If you’ve set a rule about tantrums (like time-outs), apply it consistently.

Remember, shifting behaviour takes time and patience. Encourage and praise him when he engages in non-screen activities, and gradually, he may become more receptive to spending time away from his iPad.

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