I have written a number of articles recently looking at the idea of what makes a good memory and how to set up family traditions. Now we are looking at how we can use what we learnt and remember from our past to help us in the future. Because when we come across a problem we use what we know to help provide us with a solution.
As we progress as a society things have continued to change. Children are no longer expected to be seen and not heard and it is no longer seen as appropriate to hit our children due to our loss of control and frustration. For those who experienced interactions which are no longer seen as appropriate, it is understandable that support may be required. If our past life templates are no longer suitable, we need to try and find other ones to build on and follow.
One of the biggest challenges parents appear to be facing right now is that of the addiction of screens and hand held devices. The biggest challenge with these is the fact that we see these as a 21st century problem, which means looking back at our own childhood appears to be pointless, but I encourage you to do so.
When I was younger we had one Television, all my friends had their own in their rooms, so I wanted one to. But no, I was never allowed. At the time I found it frustrating and annoying that my parents put in place such a rule. They didn’t even have televisions, so what would they know!
As I got older I saw the benefit of such a rule. It forced us into working together as a family more. We had to negotiate and agree on what to watch. We were in the same room, watching the same thing, so we could talk about it later and share in jokes about what we had seen.
It was always my plan to have the same rule, and in fact we do only have one television. However, with the advent of portable devices and computers which can access online TV, it is really a moot point.
What I did learn from my experience is that even though the wish for a TV was really strong in me, I didn’t actually miss out on anything, not really. In fact I possible gained more, in the fact that I had to learn to deal with disappointment, learn to wait my turn, to watch stuff I didn’t really want to, just to find out that actually it wasn’t that bad.
This has helped me when discussing things like screen rules with my kids. I have taken on board their need to access screens for their homework, even their use to connect with their friends and peers and I can empathise with their desire to have unlimited access, but I know that they will survive without this.
This is the first thing you need to review.
What do you believe about devices?
Once you have worked out why you have the view on them that you do, you can then start to look at the next challenge they pose, how to know what’s going on?
When I was younger my mother would often pop her head around the door to see what I was up to and check on my wellbeing. It was usually pretty obvious, generally requiring nothing but a nod and a smile, or possibly a quick clarifying question to confirm, before moving on. This quick check rarely led to raised voices or arguments as she could see what she needed to see.
Nowadays it is not as easy, the table below outlines the biggest problem I believe all families currently have with screens and devices.
Because we as parents cannot read our children’s device dialogue, it is impossible to tell what is taking place without asking questions. All children need some space, to just be kids, if we have to constantly ask them questions they can interpret this as a lack of trust, meddling, being nosey, bossy, in my face etc. This can then lead to resentment causing them to respond to our perfectly reasonable requests with snappy or sullen answers which in turn lead to us feeling as though they are not respecting us, favouring their device over us and becoming addicted!
This is where having a shared screen language can help.
We need to look at everyday ways of communicating to help us to find solutions.
How can we use our body language, or positioning to indicate what we are doing?
Are there other ways we can indicate to others our current level of accessibility?
The concepts in this article are so new that information on it can be hard to find, but I am starting to gather together ideas from those around me. Rather than list possible solutions this is a situation which I think would benefit much more from a discussion, as each family will need to adopt its own accent, hold its own device dialogue to ultimately build a successful screen language.
Please share your ideas for this new language.
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All the very best
Ruth Taylor www.ruthtaylor.net