Kids and Technology: 5 Positive Ways to Use Screen Time as a Family

“Phone were attached to walls when you were a kid mom?!”

I’m 41. HS class of 2000. When email first came out to my middle school, I had to press Control “S” to send a basic, graphic void HTML email. For my kids, a phone not fitting in your pocket must sound paranormal or like my grandpa’s tall-tales of walking a mile uphill (both ways🤣) in the snow. Kids and technology AKA gobs of screen time can be highly damaging. No doubt. Yet avoiding tablet and tv use completely?!

I’d argue there’s a balance to embrace: we can utilize the amazing media access we have to create rich bonds with our kiddos and model thoughtful tablet and phone use.

Research has also indicated that not all screen time is equal: A slow-placed nature documentary has a completely has a different affect on your son or daughter vs. fast moving sporadic cartoons. Here’s 5 ways to connect with your kids using a screen-rather than just binge watching Mandalorian 😁

  1. Build Activity Specific Playlists of your favorite songs as a family. Imagine having play lists for chore times, school carpool or even homework sessions. Remember, introduce your kiddos to music you can also enjoy. If you’re playing “The Wheels on the Bus” just because it’s a good pre-school song, you might poke your eyes out eventually! Create an environment that energizes you too. Kids will sense your true excitement or boredom. Music can spice up the mundane and help us all laugh together even more often. –-> Recently my husband has been introducing our kids to some of the oldie but goodie movies from his childhood–yes, he IS child of the 80’s. 😁 A totally unplanned serendipitous delight now unfolds as our kids ask Alexa to play songs from these movies during their morning getting-dressed-and-make-beds routine:
    • Karate Kid’s: You’re the Best
    • Rockie Four: Eye of the Tiger
    • Back to the Future Soundtrack
  2. Indulge in Throwback Tuesday or Thursday: Use Youtube to watch music videos or tv shows you enjoyed as a kid/teen and introduce your kids to a little pop-culture lesson:
    • Michael Jackson–need I say more?! I mean this guy paved the way for changing the way music videos were done. At least show them a couple video. Yes, some of his later work gets a little more angry and rough but what especially with teens his videos
  3. Prepare theme party centered around a specific movie. Got that binge movie that you, the hubby and kiddos just keep wanting to rewatch? Share the love and create a themed evening around it. Invite another family to attend your home viewing. Think food and drinks, outfits, games. My parents once threw a What about Bob? Party. So many quotes. It just makes me smile. “With all the horror in the world what difference does it make?” My mom made Gil popcorn cups we each hung around our necks while we watched the ensuing woes of Dr. Leo Marvin being stalked by his overly dependent counselee, Bob, who eventually switches roles with Leo as the sane character between this odd couple. Consider prepping themed activities such as:
    • Food & Drink Menu
    • Bingo
    • Quote puzzles
    • Photo booth props
    • True or False Facts Sheets such as: T/F Movie location, cost or revenue of the film, soundtrack’s composer, ages of famous actors at the time of production

4. Proclaim a Top 10 Photos of the Month or Week Contest: Use your smart TV to mirror each family members submission and then vote on the best ones. Adjust number of photos allowed by each person according to your family size or attention span😊 This can be a great way to let teens share a little of their world with you rather than asking the age old question “How was your day?”

As you repeat this monthly or weekly review, move the final photos to a platform like Shutterfly or Picaboo so you can compile a media library for a yearly photo album. If your kids are older, you could even make this a part of their monthly chores–ie. Your 14-year composes and edits your photo pages for March 2023. Who knows? You may discover a blooming graphic designer or editor in chief?

5. Pick a show series that teaches a skill or an experience that everyone can enjoy learning together. These have been some of our favorites:

  • Cooking shows:
    • Chopped
    • Ina Gartner
    • The Happy Chef
  • Survival, Adaptability and Perseverance
    • Alone
    • American’s Next Top Ninja Warrior
    • Alaska
  • Tinkering and Learning about Different Occupations
    • The Repair Shop on NetFlix
    • Treehouse Masters
    • Dirty Jobs
  • Travel
    • Rick Steve
    • Travels with Amy–very family friendly but creative a and resourceful

This list will continue to grow. I want to share activities you can do utilizing technology AND bonding with kids simultaneously. In the end, here’s one rule of thumb my husband and I try to lean into: invite your kids into your world. Don’t abandon your interests for kid-centered shows all the time.

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