It took a global pandemic to get me to budge on our house electronics rules.

My 9th grader? She’s been pleading her case for social media access for months. Friends who aren’t allowed to roam the mall sans parents, but can post selfies on SnapChat. Lab partners who only communicate via Instagram DM’s. 

Pre-Covid-19? Case denied.

My 6th grader? Would rather work on her Minecraft world than her chores. Could watch  YouTube crafting videos until she reached the end of the internet.

Pre-Covid-19? Put down the iPad and get to work.

My 3rd grader? Passionately pleads for more time when her 2 hour daily limit is reached.

My preschooler? Wants to make it through the entire Scooby Doo catalog to see if there is anyone who has “gotten away with it” because “those meddling kids” (well, Velma) couldn’t figure out who was behind the mask.

Pre-Covid-19? Negatory on the extra time.

For my pre-COVID-19 manifesto on kids and electronics, check out my post for Dallas Moms, When Should you Give Your Child a Smartphone.

After a couple of days of being housebound with 4 bored kids, trying to balance work, childcare, e-learning, and household chores, I realized I needed to budge a little (okay, a lot) on the house devices and social media rules.

A pandemic parent’s guide to electronics usage

Here’s how this pandemic parent has adjusted the house rules on electronics and social media to minimize my kids’ boredom, maximize my work time, and help my kids maintain contact with their friends and classmates.

  • Almost no time limits. During school hours (9 am to 2 pm on weekdays), only for academic use. Outside of those hours? Sky’s the limit.
  • Welcome to Instagram. Instagram account for my high schooler, so she can communicate with her friends and classmates.
  • Why aren’t you texting? No time limits on texting, and reminding, yes reminding, my 2 older girls throughout the day to text with their friends.
  • If there’s a ZOOM, you better be in the room. Mandatory viewing of any teacher or parent organized video calls, even if all you do us keep your microphone on mute and stare at the screen.

The good…

There’s no better way to keep a preschooler from crashing your ZOOM meeting than with an iPad loaded with a new game and a pair of headphones.

Thanks to social media, texting, and video chats, my girls are still in touch with their friends and classmates (barely, but there is some communication).

the bad,…

In the less than a month since we’ve been housebound, my preschooler has binged every version of Scooby Doo ever made, including the questionable Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated from the early 2000s, which features a running gag of Velma trying to get Shaggy to spend romantic time with her.

My 3rd grader uses video chats to give her friends tours of our house, including once my bathroom while I was taking a shower.

And I’ve added “kid social media accounts” to the long list of things I have to monitor.

and the ugly

Yes, we’re all in survival mode now, and I know I’m not the only one playing fast and loose with the electronics rules.

But what happens on the other side of this? When businesses and schools reopen? When we no longer scatter like roaches at the sound of a cough? When our parenting goals are again something more than just making them feel safe and secure?

Will I ever be able to get the electronics genie back in the bottle? To cut their usage down from unlimited to something more reasonable? To make sure they spend more time communicating with people in person than electronically?

I sure hope so. 

But for now, I’ll just focus on getting through one day at a time.

How have you eased up the rules on electronics usage in your house? Leave a comment or send me an email.

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