Screenstrong.com is a website started by Melanie Hemp, a mother who was alarmed at the dependency on screens she was seeing from her children. She has garnered support and an impressive board of directors, and it has turned into a movement. Screenstrong boldly says on their website “Reclaiming our kids: rescuing a screen-driven generation”. What are the ScreenStrong recommendations?
- “Minimize early exposure: Don’t let your children and teens develop an early dependency on their screens. Delay smartphones, video games, and social media through late adolescence.’
- “Maximize relationships: Change the environment to reflect a people-centered—not screen-centered—lifestyle. Replace the virtual worlds with real relationships, real play, and real life experiences.”
On the ScreenStrong blog, Julie Christian, shared their family’s story, entitled, “It’s Okay To Be Different”:
Julie’s oldest son, Peter, a 6th grader, did not want to go to school. Julie found out that the new child he had befriended a year earlier , wasn’t including him because he didn’t play Fortnite.
Julie’s children had been screen-free for three years, when Peter was in third grade, and there were so many positive benefits that she wasn’t going to change back. After limiting screens, Peter’s reading skills had jumped a grade and his brother’s tantrums diminished and then disappeared. She said their lives became almost normal and peaceful. She said if her son was unpopular then so be it.
Julie talked about how she also was seen as odd because her children didn’t have phones and didn’t play video games. Even her parents thought they were being too severe.
Julie Christian continues:
”Over time my children stopped worrying about their popularity, because they were so busy doing things that kids were supposed to do, they forgot to care. They came home exhausted with scuffed knees, dirty clothes and lots of stories to share with us. They also built their own treehouse and had friends come and play with out their phones.”
“Over time the same parents who “tsk-tsked” our extreme choice secretly came to us with their embarrassing stories. One mom’s 11-year-old daughter posted provocative dances on Tok-tok. One relative’s son dropped out of college after losing his scholarship because he stayed up all night gaming.”
We experienced this in our family. When one of our sons was 17, he had a flip phone. It was embarrassing for him. He accepted it, but wasn’t happy about it. We had a longer vision about what would make him happy, and a smart phone wasn’t it. I agree with the above mom—that’s it’s okay to be different. For younger children to stay in touch with their friends, you can install a land line where they will learn the valuable skill of talking on a phone. There also are smart watches where children can call up to five people, and be located when they are wearing the watch.
Here is are two links about how playing Fortnite makes your child more aggressive and when is the best age to give your child a smart phone.
Dr. Mate, co-author of Hold On To Your Kids says, “They should not be left to their own devices. 80 % of children under 2 are already on screens. In less than 6 years the amount of family time has been reduced by one third in 32 nations because of screen time. We ought to be alarmed.”