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124: Reduce Screen Time in Your Stepfamily

The Remarried Life

Release Date: 01/07/2020

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More Episodes

Brian Mayer talks about how technology, screen time, and social media can secretly and silently destroy your connection with your stepfamily.  We will talk about this and some strategies to reduce this as an issue.  We hope you enjoy today’s message.  For more information and additional resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com

Today's Goodies

 

  • Over the last decade we have all become familiar with how technology like smartphones, tablets and other devices have eroded time together as a family and causes issues for individuals even beyond the family.
  • There are differing studies on the issues, but the average screen time a teenager spends every day is around 6 hours.  If you take away the time we need to sleep which is usually around 7-9 hours, this means that 6 out of 15-17 hours a teenager is awake they are on the phone. 
  •  
  • You might thing that teenagers spend much more time in front of a screen, but according to many studies of adults, it appears that on average adults might spend around 11 hours in front of a screen.  Of course some of this could be work related, but still this is an incredible amount of time. 
  • Now to be clear all use of technology is not bad.  Because of the way the world operates now, sometimes there is not much we can do about.  For example determining the hours a restaurant is open is much easier to check on the internet than to make a call to determine this. 
  • What about using apps that make video calls so that loved ones can connect in a more face to face manner even though it is through the screen. 
  • Now while screentime can be beneficial it can often be a hindrance to connection.  This is no more of an important issue that those of us that exist in a blended family. 
  • With connection between stepparents and stepchildren or between step siblings already tenuous at best, we need all the help we can get to strengthen those connections.  Unfortunately kids and screens whether they voluntarily use them or a parent is asking them to get on a screen because the child is “bored” is getting in the way of already frayed connections. 
  • Let’s talk about some ways that we can reduce screen time and some suggestions for what can be done instead. 
    • Give some advance notice that you have made a decision that screen time should be reduced.  So maybe one week prior and for each day make an announcement that screen time will soon be required to be reduced. 
    • Setting limits on screen time is important but you must go slowly.  Unfortunately screen time is somewhat like an addiction.  You may have seen meltdowns on the internet which kids are asked to put down the screens and games.  So maybe you start with a 15 min block of time once a day for a week to ask everyone to put away screens. 
    • You could even not do this everyday, but say every other day or once every 3 days if you would like. 
    • Everyone should participate even the adults.  This probably goes without saying, but there is slightly higher likelihood that the children will fall in line if they see you practicing what you are telling them to do.  Now notice I said slightly and in some cases there is potential this will not work and the children will still be angry. 
    • Each person in the family has their own day where they have to reduce screen time as another option.  So for example, maybe your day is Mondays to limit.  Maybe your spouse takes Tuesdays.  Then you stepson takes Wednesdays, and your daughter takes Thursdays.  This will actually help put the spotlight on one family member to know that they are in some ways being watched.  Of course reward the individual with lots of compliments if you “catch” them on your day.
    • Substituting screen time for something else is also important.  Games that involve the entire family can be helpful. 
    • Chores that each child must complete first before screen time can help to limit the amount of time on the screen. 
    • Implementing a physical fitness routine is also important. 
      • According to the USDA, adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level or about 1 hour and 15 minutes at a vigorous level. 
      • For kids between the ages of 6-17 years old, they recommend 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day.  There should be muscle building activity as well. 
  • This is not going to be easy because as we know, humans are generally averse to change.  Kids are especially prone to have difficulty with change.  So again to repeat take this slow and give lots of advance warning that changes will be made. 
  • The changes you make now can work to strength everyone’s social, intellectual, emotional and physical well-being. 
  • Okay so I am going to practice what I teach by wrapping up this episode and going to do what I love and that is go for a run.  It is a bit chilly but hopefully within a few minutes of starting I will get nice and toasty. 
  • Good luck with your work to help reduce screen time and begin to strengthen connections in your stepfamily.    

Resources:

  • None Mentioned

Thanks For Listening!

  • With so many things that take time in our lives, I am more grateful than you know that you took time to listen to this podcast episode. 
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As always remember that marriage is not something you have, it is something you do.  Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute!  Take care.