Parenting & Mindset/Emotional Wellness Expert, Mother of a Tween & Teen
“Should I let my children have screens in their bedrooms?“
This is a common question caring parents usually ask me. Should my tween or teen have a television, video game console or a computer in her bedroom? If you’re asking yourself this question, it’s because you’re one of the caring parents struggling with this issue. And, one thing I always encourage my parents is to go with their gut feeling, especially when it’s pretty strong.
When our son was 10-years old, he asked me if he could have a television and video game console in his bedroom now that he was “old enough.”
“All my friends are allowed to have their computer, TV and video game consoles in their bedrooms, can I?” – he said.
I don’t know if ALL of his friends were allowed to have these electronic devices in their rooms, but I do know some of them were. Of course, he was trying to make a statement. Without thinking about it twice, I told him…
“No son, screens are not allowed in your bedroom.”
As you can imagine, he was pretty upset. I explained my reasons and, although he disagreed with me, he eventually stop asking. You might be wondering why I don’t allow my children to have screens in their bedroom. I’ll be happy to share with you four of many reasons why I don’t want to take that road with my tween and teen.
Youngsters who have screens in their rooms stay in their rooms. They come home from school straight to their bedrooms and lock themselves inside their bedrooms. Why bother coming out of their bedrooms since they have enough ‘access’ and entertainment there to keep them busy. They might come out to use the bathroom once in a while, but mainly, these kids stay in their rooms for hours. Whether they’re engaging in online activities with others, browsing the internet or playing video games, they don’t see the need to come out of their rooms. Some begin to behave as if they live in an all-inclusive resort. They only come out when they smell dinner, and if you don’t keep an eye on it, they will even sneak the food in their bedrooms.
The danger of this is that communication between you and your child–and between other family members is affected. As a result, the connection between you and your child will begin to weaken, and if you’re not careful, it might even disappear. Suddenly, spending time with family is not as important as being online.
SCARY UNLIMITED ACCESS.
We know about the many dangers of the internet. We can’t always control or monitor what our children browse on the web at all times. We can, however, teach our children what’s appropriate and what’s harmful. We can also make inappropriate content less accessible. There are a few ways to control what they’re exposed to such as parental control software and apps. In this post, I want to suggest having no screens in your child’s room at all. Instead, only have them in common areas of your home.
In my home, the computer is in our home office and the only television we have that’s rarely used is located in the family room. If the screens are in a common area, your children will likely be more careful about what they’re browsing and you will be able to keep an eye on what they’re doing. This will also help you both monitor the time they spend on their screens so that they don’t end up becoming addicted to technology which leads me to my next point.
RISK OF ADDICTION.
You’re probably aware about the many types of addictions linked to screens. One that continues to grow among tweens and teens is gaming. Rather than engaging in the real world, these kids immerse themselves into the fantasy world of gaming. The dangers of this addiction is that they often isolate themselves from others, some identify with these fictional characters at a pathological level, ignore more important responsibilities and their academic performance begin to take its toll.
The good news is that we, as parents, can set boundaries and teach our youngster self-control. One way is to set limits for screen usage. Say, they can use their computer or watch television (or tablets) until 9 p.m., one-hour for video games after chores and homework are completed (use a timer), no video games during school evenings, etc. In my home, computers and tablets are turned off at 9:30 p.m. unless they’re doing homework. Each family has their own dynamics, and you know your family best. Most importantly, we are our children’s role models. We have to model the behavior we want to see in our children. If we model self-control, they’ll learn it from us!
Once you fall asleep, you’re no longer aware of what’s happening in your child’s room. Are your kids on the screens until late at night? Is she staying late posting in social media? Is he playing video games in the middle of the night? Experts have found that kids between ages 6 and 19 who use screen-based media around bedtime sleep worse and are usually more tired in the day than those who don’t.
One reason is the blue light these devices emit that can interfere with the sleep-inducing melatonin. Another reason is that, as they stay up late, they aren’t sleeping enough hours. As a result, they wake up in a bad mood, super tired and have a hard time concentrating. Don’t be surprised if they’re constantly moody and struggling in school because they’re having a hard time focusing and paying attention in class. They’re probably struggling to stay awake.
As for our son, he asked me again once he turned fifteen.
My answer remained the same… No. As you can imagine, he wasn’t a happy camper. He threw the “You don’t trust me!” card at me. I simply reminded him that, it’s not about trust. It’s about adopting healthy habits. We went over the points I’m sharing with you in this post and surprisingly, he was okay with it. And, of course, our daughter doesn’t even bother asking.
Yes, I trust my son. I trust he’ll make good choices. Regardless, I want both children to understand that this is our home where we have conversations with each other. I want them to stay connected with us and with each other not the fantasy world the web offers. I want them to learn self-control and respect their bodies. I want them to be conscious and smart about what they allow to enter in their heads…
And, I want them to have control over their screen use and not be controlled by it!
Are you working on one of these issues with your tween or teen? Are you seeing results? Share them below!
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