So many parents struggle with their children to find a balance between good old fashioned fun and screen time.  No doubt your child’s teacher has told you to limit screen time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2. Children over 2 to 12 should be limited to one hour of screen time per day and teens and adults limited to two hours of screen time per day.  I don’t know about you, but that last recommendation for adults surprised me.  I think I’m way over that amount and I expect you are, too.  So maybe it’s time to reevaluate how we are spending our time.  We often complain about not having enough of time.  And time is one commodity that you can never get back or hoard.  Perhaps this week’s recommendation is for adults as well as children! Let’s see what we can learn from Polly and the Screen Time Overload.

Polly and the Screen Time Overload

Talking to your children about screen time overload can be a touchy topic.  I know we encountered this with our own grandchildren.  Our first approach was to talk to them about the fact that their time with us is limited.  We want to spend time with them because they are special to us.  We have made the commitment to stay away from all of our screens (TV, computer, phone and I-Pads) while they are with us.  It is one way we communicate how valuable they are to us.  That worked fairly well UNTIL they got cell phones.  

A Very Keen Observation

Now we can debate what age is appropriate to have a cell phone.  I’m going to leave that up to you as a parent to decide for your child. What was telling for us was when the younger grandchild made this comment, “I don’t like my brother’s cell phones. I wish they didn’t have them. They don’t play with me anymore.”  That is a very keen observation for a 5 year old!  And that’s when we pulled out Polly and the Screen Time Overload.  Why not use a story (about someone else) to communicate the virtues of putting down the screen and living a little, especially when a unique opportunity is in front of you.  The story made the point without putting our grandchildren in the position of being nagged.  No arguments, just a realization that maybe there were other more fun things to do. 

The Storyline

The story centers on a girl named Polly, who visits her grandparent’s farm every summer.  Anticipating the trip, Polly recalls all of the fun things that await at the farm, including some cousins her age that live next door.  A surprise gift awaits Polly.  You guessed it, it’s an electronic device.  The remainder of the book is about how Polly learns to wisely use this new device.  What I loved about this story is that our grandchildren read it, processed it for themselves and their attitudes changed about their own devices.  The format of the story helped them think through their own choices with their devices.  It placed them in the drivers seat to make a wise choice.  I was so proud of them! 

In the author’s note to grown-ups, Betsy Childs Howard suggests making a fun list of activities that your children love and don’t want CROWDED OUT  by screen time.  In the story, Gramps suggests that Polly ask her mom to help her make a plan to enjoy her device “SOME of the time rather than ALL of the time.” Now that’s a message we can all use!

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