Screen Time Agreement: A Strength-Based Approach

Screen Time Agreement: A Strength-Based Approach

Today was a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I was browsing through one of the textbooks in the living room and my wife was taking rest in the bedroom after a long week of tireless and long office hours of work (that included Saturday as a working day too).

Usually, our boy is always jumping and chirping around but for more than 15 minutes, I could hear no voice, curiously, I went over and found him watching his favourite show – The InBESTigators on my wife’s phone in the study room. Well, there was nothing wrong with it, because this series is one of the best for children that I have viewed in ages.

My concern was that we had watched two episodes of this series earlier in the morning after breakfast, and taking into consideration of our screen time budgeting for the day, we had exhausted it all.

Now, usually in such scenarios, we are driven by:

  1. Selective Attention (aarghh!, screen time again…)
  2. Negativity Bias (why can’t he understand a simple thing – the limit of usage)
  3. Projection (I played so much of video games in my childhood stealthily myself) (The Strength Switch, Dr Lea Waters)

In addition to the knowledge gained from the book above, we, as a family had recently completed a course on parenting, based on strengths by the same name as the book – The Strength Switch. It helped me flick my Strength Switch to ON almost instinctively.

We checked onto the list of his VIA Character Strengths and narrowed down on few agreements that was based on some underused strengths, eventually linking them with the top strength as listed below:
1. Self-Regulation: Whenever there is an urge to do screen time, I will check with myself of daily budget, which is usually 1 hour, and moderate my screen time accordingly. And still, if there is a doubt, I can take help from mumma or dadda and talk of alternate options to make the best usage of my time and top strengths of Creativity, Curiosity, and Love of Learning.

2. Gratitude: I am grateful that I have the resources at my disposal that I can make use of, for my knowledge and entertainment.

3. Prudence: I understand that limiting my screen time will help me keep my eyes safe (using top strength of Kindness for myself), and I can avoid wearing corrective lenses for a longer time, unlike dadda, who wears glasses all the time because of his overindulgence in screen time. (being vulnerable helps big way in parenting)

4. Judgement: In the light of above-mentioned facts, it will be in my best interest to practise some of my underused strengths in conjunction with my top strengths to build a unique and robust portfolio of my Character Strengths.

We further agreed to write them down and stick on the wall as a reminder.

After accomplishing the above tasks, we gave a hug to each other and felt an increase in our trust than before. It provided a boost in our confidence for our future behaviour (him being more regulated and me being a better parent to handle such incidents).

Today, I have realised more than ever that Strength-Based Parenting is undoubtedly the effective science of parenting based on Positive Psychology. It does create a healthy environment for the child to flourish, practise strengths, avoiding the negative and criticism route.

Both the parent and child feel happy and contented!

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