Screen Time Tug of War: Reducing Screen Time for Children

Unruly Dad
November 8, 2018

Tug-of-war.  It’s become an almost daily – certainly at least a weekly – ritual in our house.  On the one side, my wife and I labor valiantly to maintain both authority and composure in the bitter struggle.  On the other, with a face of determination and the potential for a tantrum looming like a thundercloud, stands our six-year old daughter.  The field of conflict: our living room.  And the prizes over which we struggle: permission to watch “just one more” episode on the TV, to watch “just one more” movie, or to play “just one more” game on our family tablet. With every added hour of screen time, we watch our daughter sink into the dreaded screentime zombie.

Like many parents, my wife and I regularly struggle with this “screen time” tug-of-war as we work to balance our daughter’s ravenous appetite for technology with our desire that she continues her STEM learning after school hours, while occasionally playing outside, getting her hands dirty and interacting with her friends. For taking this position, my wife and I are - as my daughter has forcefully explained - very VERY bad. Really, just terrible.  It may sound silly, but these regular screen time struggles between parent and child are a real source of stress and conflict in our house.  Fortunately, our Unruly Splats have changed that for us by introducing a dynamic environment for STEM learning at home.

I believe a main driver of this conflict in our house up until now has been the zero-sum nature of the situation.  Traditionally, when our daughter was using the tablet or watching TV, she did so while sitting on our couch – for hours if we let her.  During that time she was getting zero physical exercise, she was not interacting with her physical environment or other people, and she was not exploring the world.  Even other existing technologies like Nintendo’s Wii system, which does permit some physicality, lack the practical and educational value that my wife and I prefer to see in something our daughter will invest substantial time in.  This made the issue very black and white for my wife and I.

Splats have changed that paradigm for our family.  Finally, my wife and I have a toy that we don’t have to ration - because it is not only stimulating our daughter’s creativity and teaching her critical thinking, but also instilling practical, useful, real-world concepts and skills such as rudimentary coding.  Rather than playing someone else’s prearranged game, on whatever platform or system, Splats allow my daughter to create and play whole new games of her own.  Moreover, they have transformed our tablet into something that enables physical play.

My daughter can, and does, create a program, sequence or game, and then triggers it physically by running to, away from or between the two Splats.  She stomps on the Splats to score points, advance the game, trigger sequence changes, and everything else she envisions.  Her creative and physical growth have both been stimulated, and my wife and I could not be happier.  Our Unruly Splats have opened up a fun new avenue to learning, physical play, engaging games, and active education.  The only game we aren’t playing as much is screen time tug-of-war.  That game hardly gets played in this house anymore.

Unruly Studios makers of Unruly Splats, programmable, stompable floor tiles that help kids learn fundamental coding skills through recess-style play. Best for elementary and middle school students from PE to science or coding class, a great addition to the classroom for active STEM coding and play!

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