Managing Teens, Screens & my (naïve) dreams

I‘ve fought pretty hard over the last few years to battle the tech-tide in our house. Despite my best efforts to minimise its prominence, it has insidiously become such an intrinsic part of our lives that even I struggle to work out how I would keep all the moving parts of our lives working without my daughter having her phone, my son being able to host his friends to play Minecraft and my weekly supermarket order.

But Christmas is coming up and (much to my children’s annoyance and frustration), my desire to reduce tech and have an old-fashioned family time is once again rearing its luddite head.

In truth, it’s partly because over the recent half term we were lucky enough to have a week away in the glorious sunshine of Greece. While I do know it’s always easier to eschew tech when there’s a beach and a pool as distractions, the benefit of less tech was that we had happier and less stressed kids who went back to the old school pleasures of pottering and playing.

It was a lovely to see and, let’s acknowledge it, relatively easy to achieve.

While I’m pretty sure it would be impossible to create a tech-free holiday and keep my children talking to me, I also want to avoid a two week period of them burying themselves in an endless series of ipad time, phone time and watching endless inane youtube videos.

When I mentioned this to my horrified children they were appalled. On pointing out that I had managed perfectly well growing up without these accessories and activities, my son took a moment to reflect this awful proposition, then queried incredulously, “so you’re older than youtube mum?” Yes I answered, wondering to myself how I ever got THIS old. But it got worse. Quick as a flash he came back with his follow up question, a simple segway in his mind, “So are you older than light bulbs too?” OMG pass the Sloe Gin someone please!

But despite this crude reminder of my ageing self, I’m still hoping to instil a less-tech culture this holiday and naively have aspirations to play family games, bake, go for walks and even perhaps manage to just watch one episode of a boxset rather than 10. How realistic this is I don’t know, given I will need to work some days, cook for and look after relatives on other days, but I am also coming to accept that I may have to learn to play Minecraft or at the very least take part in some Just Dance Xbox activities as part of our family time.

I’m learning that although I can’t turn the tide, I just might be able to steer them towards more social tech activities that we can all be involved in to create a wider range of memories together. So even if it’s not a puzzle that we’re sitting down to, we might make a Tik Tok video or a meme together.