Friday, December 7, 2012

Chaos management: Technology

I tucked one son in, and said, “Have a good rest, honey.”
“You have a good nap, too.” He said.
“Oh, I’m not sleeping today,” I said, and he looked concerned.
“Well mommy, if you… maybe… maybe take some rest so maybe after naptime you won’t be so… loud.”

He was right—it had been quite the lecture. Again, there were hugs and apologies and prayer. Rest in peace, son, and may God help us to stay at peace even when you are awake.

What brought on the fit-throwing this time?

Honestly, I feel a vague sense of guilt when my kids are watching TV or playing video games.   That doesn’t mean it never happens, of course. Generally, we do things together until my nerves are shot, and then I “give in” to some screen time so that I have a minute to recover myself. 

But there is no system in this house. And I think we need a system.

Last weekend, I said, “I’ll let you guys have some technology time, but you need to take turns and be kind to one another.”  No rules, just a plea to play, get along, and leave me out of it, please.

Well, it was too much for them. Turns out, the system they fell into was something like this: the one who pesters persistently or whines the loudest gets the most play time. The bigger ones get more play time than the little ones.   Disagreements are to be worked out with snarky comments, and unresolved issues get settled by mom in the kitchen.

Until, of course, mom has had ENOUGH.
And she makes everyone turn everything off, and stomps around, and seriously considers banning children from electronics forever.

We all exchanged apologies at lunch, and then we discussed technology.

Is it a want or a need?  Will you actually suffer harm if you do not have technology time?
A want, they reluctantly admitted.

What is good about it?
It is fun, and it keeps us out of your hair. (sigh, um, yes it does.)
And of course, it can be educational, mom.

What’s not working in this house?
We are fighting about it too much.

“So kids,” I said,” I see two ways to solve this problem. We could come up with a better system of rules to help us limit and manage our technology time, or we could simply get rid of technology time all together.”

They voted for the rules. I said we will try rules, but they already know the backup plan.

It started with technology tickets. I've seen many cute and fun ways to do these on pinterest (like this one,) but for me, if it's going to get done, it needs to be simple.  So here's my version for the not-so-crafty mom:

technology sticks

Technology can be a means of God-given relief, for them and for me. 
And yet, young sinners need some boundaries, just like mom does.

Here's what I came up with (and thanks to all of you who contributed to the discussion on facebook!)

You'll notice there is not a firm number of hours here. I reserve the right to tinker with this system, and to declare a family movie night that is for all of us, including those who have used all their sticks already.

So far, there has been less arguing, more peace, more reading, and more cleaning in this home. I like that :)


God, thank you for the gift of technology!  Guide us as we learn to use it for good in this home and outside these walls.  Amen.

How do you manage technology time in your home?


Also, check out this post for some great Advent ideas, including the "Gifts we already have" gratitude journal, and the giving catalog.


  1. I love the Sticks..What a great idea! My Girls have limits too, if they argue, pester or speak nastily to each other it gets turned off, they can have one hour at a time and must ask for an extension and explain why (Would like to finish this level or this story I'm writing or picture I'm drawing etc) But I only have 2 children. I am sure the sticks would be needed if there were as many to arrange as you. My Sis has 6 girls and she has trouble with this type of thing too, so I will suggest this to her. What a great Idea!!

  2. We use technology as a reward also. And there are a few instructional/educational apps/programs that I have them do for a designated time (that they think just "games" shhhh!) each week because I know they are learning something valuable through them.

    Great idea though with the Popsicle sticks!


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