Parenting: Balancing Screens and Sports

Well, let me start this post off in saying, I am not the best at holding my ground on time limits on the screens, especially with my Tween. I am a privileged single mom of two awesome boys. Carter is 12 turning 16 and Briggs is 10, wishing he was turning 8. Being a single parent has both it’s pros and cons and learning to leverage those is a balancing act some of the best trapeze performers might never master. But…The Joy is in the Journey.

Carter (My Tween) is the son I am most concerned with at the moment. His whole life… His whole being is defined by the number of “likes” he gets while “streaming” on Fortnite and the number of “thumbs up” received on his You-Tube channel teaching others his face-off techniques for Lacrosse. His obsession is both all-inspiring and equally concerning. We have all struggled with obsession/addiction. Whether it is with food, sugar, alcohol, love, loss, exercise, and whatever else your inner needs may be. But as adults, we have learned how to identify a pattern and how to balance those obsessions. These babies…these “tweens” are not equipped yet with those skills. So…how as Parents do we become their balancing act without becoming the enemy?

This past week I have employed some basic rules and I was amazed at the difference it made. Instead of “taking away” screen time, I “rewarded screen time”. I was approaching this all wrong. Here, my son’s most important social identity was being mocked by me as a waste of time. Not important. A problem. Can you imagine being told the one thing most important to you, by the most important person (aka Mom) was a waste of time? I decided to get involved. I became equally interested and impressed with his abilities in Fortnite and other video games as I am in his Lacrosse skills. His face lite up and I could see he really wanted my approval.

After gaining a mutual appreciation for ALL of his interests, I set some guidelines. We set up typical time limits (1 hour on xbox/day) But only after homework was done and one hour was spent outside playing…anything from skateboarding, lacrosse, football to whatever…As long as it was outside. However, I allowed him to ADD 5 mins to his “screen-time” if he did extra things around the house, played with his brother, and overall good behavior. Most nights he was rewarded an additional 10-15 mins. On the flip side, he could lose minutes as well. Arguing with his brother, name calling, not listening, etc (the normal behaviors that make us crazy) would result in losing 5 mins of screen time. However, switching the focus on EARNING screen time was far more important than the act of LOSING screen time. I found that the simple change of perspective really made for a much happier home. So now, this Mom that once loathed Fortnite, has found a new appreciation for it as a tool.

Again, the Joy is in the Journey…May we all journey together

xoxo, Jenny

I started a new