Can’t Get My Kid To Disconnect but Less Electronics Has Helped Me

AlyzSE

*The following nonfiction piece is based on personal observation. I do not claim to be an expert in areas of public health, academia, mental health, or science, nor am I providing professional medical or legal advice. Opinions shared are expressly drawn from personal experience.

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Alyza LeBlanc

I have done my share of research on the affects of too much screen time for kids. Of course, my situation becomes more challenging as her (pre-adoption) early years included no restrictions whatsoever. This child was exposed to violence, substance abuse and plenty sexual content as early as she can remember.

Screen time has been a constant point of contention in our house. I have tried to explain the many proven downfalls of over use including sleep problems, lower grades, trouble focusing, less time with family and friends, not enough exercise or outdoor activity. I’ve eliminated electronics in her room, limited usage and blocked adult content, all resulting in my being the "most strict parent in the world".

Like many teens, my child could spend literally every free moment of her time on Snap these days. She even wakes up earlier just to get to her phone. While I want her to be successful in life and learn self discipline, be more assertive, focus more on her education, get outside and enjoy nature and even enjoy more face to face interactions with her friends, I have also lost the desire to fight this continual battle. Ultimately, I’ve learned these kids research hacks, create fake accounts, lie, hide and will find work arounds to just about any restriction you try to put in place.

The American Academy of Pediatrics not only recommends no more than two hours per day of screen time for children and teenagers, but suggest the same for adults for time outside of work responsibilities. In an effort to set a good example, my personal use of electronics and screen time has improved tremendously. Here are some of the changes I have made to improve my quality of life.

1. I no longer fall asleep watching tv. If I have trouble sleeping, I listen to music or to an audio book.

2. I never pick up my phone at night before I go to sleep or when I wake up in the middle of the night.

3. I either hit the gym or go for a walk every day before playing games on my phone, and restrict time on gaming, except when traveling.

4. I allow myself to check social media sites twice daily rather than spend endless hours scrolling social media. The same holds true for digital news.

5. I also used to be a huge worker during off hours which I have almost eliminated. An occasional project may cause me to extend working hours, but it certainly no longer a nightly ritual.

I am more active, feel healthier and am sleeping much better. I also find myself looking for more creative ways to spend my time, whether that be looking for local festivals, community activities, participating in fundraisers/volunteering, or looking for concerts or plays to attend. There is so much world around us to enjoy and explore. While I’m losing the battle with my teen, I have gained much personally.

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Lifestyle insights on work, parenting, and relationship balance from the perspective of a business professional and solo parent to an adopted teen.

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