Thoreau Quote

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Weaning Teens from Screens - Progress (I think!!)

I had a bit of a panic last week. I finally got around to contacting the school we've used previously for sitting GCSEs, only to find out that they are full this year and can't accommodate any external candidates. Given that I'd left it to the last minute, as usual, and the deadline for entering was fast approaching, this threw me somewhat! I was only aware of one other centre in Cambridgeshire, but that one is a bit of a drive for us and charges a bit more than I can afford, so I hastily began emailing around for some suggestions.

After a few hours I had a handful of places to try (gotta love the internet!!) including a state school just a few miles down the road. I wasn't hugely confident, given that on the whole state schools don't consider external candidates, but I gave it a shot and bingo! For some reason (I'm not sure why)they will only accept over 16s, but since B was 16 just a few days earlier we scraped in. How lucky! I can't think why they have this ruling but I'm not complaining! The charges are also very reasonable.

So, panic over and I turned my mind to reviewing the situation I was talking about a few weeks ago. Have I managed to wean my teens from their seeming dependence on screen-based activities?

Well, our weekdays certainly have a more constructive feel to them. I've got them making a list each morning of things they want to achieve in the day (an idea I pinched from my friend Ross, thanks Ross!! See her blog here: I've had them thinking about whether they need to prioritise anything (like GCSE studies, now we're committed to the exams!), but also to make sure that they have a mixture of activities in there. So, maybe start with The First World War followed by Pride and Prejudice and some Maths, but also throw in some baking, or photography, or walking the dog. I don't want them to think I expect them to list just academic activities. Neither do I expect them to follow their list in order, or complete everything by the end of the day. Things often take longer than we expect and life can throw a curve ball from time to time and our plans don't quite work out. But I am trying to get them to think about their days instead of just meander through them aimlessly.

How has this helped with the screen dependency? Well, the Xbox, Wii, computer games etc are not activities to appear in their planning! These are things they can do once they've been through their list (or had a fair stab at it anyway!). And it seems to be working. Prior to this, given the chance, they would just fritter the hours away on Minecraft. And if I banned screens until, say, 4.00pm, they would spend most of the day clock-watching and still achieving very little.

It's not a foolproof system. They're still a bit too keen to get to the screens and a bit too distraught if I declare them off limits for today. And we still have grey areas. "Can I go on Youtube, mum?" Well, that depends. Are you just looking at various films of cats falling off TVs or are you researching something? Are you just watching Minecraft videos to get around the fact that you can't play it right now, or have you actually started a project to film and commentate one of your own? But rather than simply laying down the law, I'm trying to get them to see the difference and monitor their own time. And that's not going to happen overnight is it, that's lifelong learning!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that Jane. Glad it's of use. I always found that you have to keep revising what you're doing all the time, but a new list is a great motivator. Very best of luck and well done for tackling the difficult screen time issue!


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