Let's make a deal

Screens. The bane of our lives. “Put the phone away”, “Turn off that PS4” You’ve been hours on that bloody thing”.  It seems like an endless round of arguing about when to go on and when to come off the screen. Couple this with the daily reminders from the media of how dangerous and damaging the screens are for your child. It can feel like yet another thing that you, as a parent, are failing at. To make it even harder, there is an entire industry designed to keep your child on a screen for as long as possible – be it a mobile phone, an iPad or a Playstation – the pull on your child to remain on the screen is incredibly strong. Your child is stuck firmly between you and a very powerful industry. This might explain why you feel so powerless with it.

This is probably one of the most frequent places that conflict happens – where screens, children and parents collide. From the child’s point of view, the device in their hand is working very hard to keep them connected – one more level in the game (I told you to get off it!), two new posts coming in on Instagram. Three feet away, their parent is desperately trying to pull them in the opposite direction. Everyone’s head is melted.

So, what can be done? How can the endless round of battles cease?

Making agreements in advance can be really helpful. You may recall that I advised you to Strike when the iron is cold. This certainly applies here. There is no point trying to solve the problem when your child is in the middle of a game or an on-screen battle. This can simply escalate and cause all hell to break loose. Pick a time – perhaps over a pizza or tea and a biscuit – and raise the issue.

Jack, we have been arguing a lot lately about your time on the screen. I’d really like to stop the fighting. How about we make some agreements about how much time you spend on the Playstation? What do you think might work here?

Emma, there has been a lot of arguing about Instagram lately. It would be great if we could make some agreements so that we are not fighting every day. I don’t want to fight with you anymore and this arguing must be hard on you.

Be prepared to offer something – be flexible. Try to understand how much they are being influenced by a powerful industry. They need your help with this. Fighting, warning, threatening is just not going to work. How about making a deal? If this doesn’t work, try again at a quiet time. The message is I’m here. I want to help you with this. We need to agree. Let's not fight.