Screen Time Contract

For the families out there…

There are some things in the last few years that have worked to bring or keep us vibing together as a family, especially coming into Nolan’s adolescence…

I just saw this agreement in our kitchen [been tucked, peeking out behind our keys for two years reminding us of some agreements] and it sparked me this afternoon to share…

First – before I share about what the photos show here — more communication has worked…and as FUN (to him) as we can make it. Many times inspired by reading the same book or by movies. We make a concerted effort to talk even more these days (they are FUN). We attempt to ask Nolan interesting and more direct questions to keep him engaged vs. simply giving us one-word answers. 

Two – life homework. We started giving him “life homework” years back (maybe 3-4 years ago, he’s 13 now) like cool books he wouldn’t have heard about, podcasts, we started him writing on an intention board each Sunday night or Monday morning, and we learned meditation as a family through TM when he was nine. Life Homework. I feel like that should be capitalized.

Three – this screen time contract. Screenagers Movie dot com has been awesome. We heard of them 2 1/2 years ago and have learned a ton through their newsletter. I would recommend it. We created the contract with their help (added/deleted stuff/used our language) and we re-agreed on it in the same year, in both September and November (I guess we needed some reminders 😉)…

What I really wanted to share to those of you headed into deciding to give your child a phone or allowing them to keep their phone is that as a result of starting with this convo and written agreement, we haven’t had any major issues with phone or technology. I credit it to conversation and taking a lot of the advice ourselves. If they see you doing things differently, they will follow suit.

Since the start of getting a phone, he’s not allowed to use it all the time, nor take it to his room and still now if we are with him, we’ve asked him to please ask us if he can use it. No big deal(s) or arguments — it’s just the way we started and the way we continued.

I’m sure this will shift a bit as he grows, however, it’s shown us so much about our own phone/tech use and how at the end of the day his rules are really our rules, too. We as parents can be the real problem sometimes. We are on our phones doing work, taking photos, doing emails, texting friends or family back…in other words, they see our faces buried into our phones much of the day. Before we set guidelines for them, setting them for the entire family is a good strategy. 

Other than that, simple but consistent and clear rules and a focus on quality time/family enjoyment (much of it focused on *his* teen love language) has also been key to not having phones/tech as an issue.

In fact it was Nolan, annoyed with our own adult phone use a couple years ago, who suggested we buy a lockbox where we lock up phones during family time (we used it for a time and now most of the time we remember, though it’s us, the parents, who fall off the wagon). 

The contract you see two pages of here is four pages long (though long, they really ARE simple rules, I’m sure, too, you could simplify it), but if you’d like the whole thing Screenagers, the site (it’s a documentary, too) has it on their site. The link is in the comments below. 

Four – next on our love him up list is Nolan’s right of passage experience in Arizona which he and Josh will be doing together as Mandel men (I asked if we could fold in a special part with me in it at the end, however, the elder putting it together said it was best to keep it as a male-focused excursion, totally, I get you…). 

These seemingly lost rituals and experiences truly do make an impression and stamp the importance of character and an awareness, not just of the type of man, contributor and human they want to be, but of their connection to the natural, emotional and spiritual world that our city life doesn’t promote as often…

In fact, the entire family will be doing rights of passage this year because even Josh and I feel a need to connect and commit always and again to the above (the natural, emotional and spiritual) because we have so much of everything else — the man-made, the technical and the physical all around us so much more).

I’ll report back once they’ve (and we’ve) completed these experiences and I hope the love and devotion baked into increased conversation between you and maybe even this agreement, if you choose to do one, brings you much family time and togetherness!  

In the end, that’s really all we want…to be closer to our kids and whether they say it or not, it’s one of their deepest wishes too…to feel closer to us…

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life! 

Life is good,

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

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