Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What Are Your Electronics Rules for Teens?

I'm curious to know what your electronics rules are--both for your teens (homeschooling or not) and parents.

We don't have any set rules--something that bugs my husband because he's more black-and-white in his thinking than I am--but that doesn't mean we don't go at one point, "Hey, you're spending an awful lot of time doing this on this device," or "Hey, you've already spent a ridiculous amount of hours doing this electronic stuff today, so no, you're not allowed to go on the Playstation." When they were younger and didn't really have devices, it was rather easy to set limits for screen time. With them being teenagers and having their own devices--and in their rooms--it's creating some challenges which might not be real issues, but definitely something my husband and I are thinking about. Are they spending too much time? What's a reasonable amount of time? What's a reasonable location?

My husband and I grew up differently, which creates some conflict there: he was in a house where there was a TV in his parents' room, a TV in the living room and a TV in the rec room in the basement--which was really his and his two brothers' area to watch TV and play video games. I grew up in a house where my mom had a TV, there was a TV in the living room (that I never had to ask to watch) and when I was in high school, I got my own TV for my room. I don't recall any rules being put on it, but I was the kind of kid who really needed my sleep, so I wasn't prone to staying up super late anyhow. Granted, we didn't have as many channels and such, so that difference is admitted by me.

So, my husband has his idea of how he grew up is how things should be; I have my idea of how I grew up isn't how things "should" be, but it's fine. My thinking, too, is what's not fine is if they watch things they know we won't approve of or if it gets to be too much. I have, for example, put a limit on our son's watching because it seems to affect his sleep more than his sister--he will literally watch something on his iPad until midnight and be awake at 8:30 or so and tired because he needs more sleep than that. His sister might watch something on her laptop, and until midnight or past, but it doesn't seem to affect her sleep the same way AND she tried on her own for a bit to follow some sleep recommendations and not watch anything for half an hour before she tried to fall asleep and it took her an hour or more longer to actually fall asleep. It's more for the background noise of familiar programs or lately, things like My Little Pony: silly, not too engaging, relaxing.

He didn't really say anything about our daughter watching stuff on her laptop until it had become something she'd been doing for a while. She's 17.5; doesn't seem like a time to be telling her to stop, something he realizes. He has concerns about what she might be watching; I check her browser and Netflix recently watched fairly often. There's never been anything of any concern to me, although he wonders about the horror movies she watches (except he and I both talk about horror movies we saw in junior high and high school). She pretty much watches stuff after everybody else is in bed, and given she has always been a night owl, since birth, she watches a bit before she's ready to fall asleep, usually around midnight or so. Is this a habit we should be discouraging is the question on my mind today.

Another issue in our house is our daughter's use of her phone after a certain hour. My husband said today he thinks she should have a curfew on it; I'm not opposed to that, but his idea of a curfew, I believe, is based on what his students have as curfews--but his students have to get up between 6-7am each day, whereas she can sleep in, and does, often until sometime between 8:30-9:30. If a school student has a phone curfew of 9 or 10, then is it unreasonable for her to be checking things at 10:30 or 11? So many questions to ask oneself as a parent! I do think that if she goes to school next year, as it looks like she will do, and she's on her phone at 11pm every night at that point, yes, it might be time to say something, although I would take more of a position of discuss it with her and work something out and I think my husband would like he and I to figure something out and tell her. (Is that a man vs woman thing? Or maybe it's just the Montessori in me: work with the child!)

My son spends HOURS AND HOURS on his iPad watching YouTube videos about games, mostly, although sometimes he does share cool stuff like Matthew Santoro's videos. (He's got awesome educational videos, btw!) I am starting to feel like it's really too much, but again, do I just determine the limit, or his dad and I determine the limit, or do I figure out a way for him to choose to cut back and regulate himself? Maria Montessori would say we need to set the limits when the kids can't set them themselves. I guess I'd like to see first if he and I can figure out a limit together.

Each teen has their own iPad (well, Mini), my son has an iPod Touch, my daughter has an iPhone (yes, she pays for the monthly bill), we have an iMac, I have my Asus laptop, my husband has an iPad from school, we have a TV in our bedroom, there's a TV in the family room and a TV in the basement, which we had designed to be the "teen cave" and it hasn't really turned out that way... (My husband puts the TV on and the sleep timer every night at bedtime. Every night. I know in high school, I often had to put something on--radio, TV, music, something--to get to sleep. As our daughter is finding is useful and our son thinks is useful, but it's typically just listening to music that gets him to sleep.)

That's just a little picture into what's going on around here. Homeschooling offers the possibility of much more openness and while the Sudbury Valley school might say, "Hey, let them do as they please!",  the Sudbury Valley school also has all kinds of kids and activity opportunities around that change the environment and influences. (I hear the "change the environment, change the child" quote. I suppose it applies to teens just as much to little ones or adults. I'll have to think about this more.)

A long way of giving you some info on my side of things to ask you: What are your electronics rules for your teens? Be it the amount of time, do they have to ask permission to use this or that, is there a curfew for certain things, restrictions on locations...?

And with that, I think I need to go upstairs and check if my son is actually getting ready for the day. He went upstairs about 10 minutes ago, but that's not a guarantee he isn't watching something else on his iPad instead of getting dressed.

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