Is your child spending too much time on their game, cell phone or social media? Are you confident that you have technology balance in your home or is your digital world controlling your life and you need a digital game plan but don’t know where to start?
I am so glad you found us! The purpose of this site is to educate parents on the power media has on our families and give you tools to make your job of home Media Manager easier. Screens have replaced the family board game night, the unstructured play in the backyard and the dinner table conversations which is why balancing a real healthy childhood with all the technology in our homes is one of the most challenging parenting issues today. Some families are better at it than others and some children, even in the same family, are naturally more balanced with their media consumption than others. But the common truths are: we are surrounded by it; much of it is good but it is not all good; childhood needs to be protected from its overuse; and our teens need to be equipped to use it well.
While we are in love with our smart devices, technology overuse is a very real problem for many families causing conflicts, poor choices and broken or shallow relationships. Our family walked through a gaming overuse journey with our oldest for 10 years and as a result we have changed how we manage media now with our younger children. We have learned a lot about the science and emotional price of media consumption in children and while it may be counter to what culture dictates, we have found tremendous joy in our game free home. I hope that you will be encouraged, helped and inspired as you read.
Overall I have seen that:
- Media consumption can replace very healthy, developmentally necessary and important childhood activities. Every time you say yes to media you say no to something else.
- Screen time triggers the release of neurotransmitter chemicals that can rewire our child’s brain if overused. Addiction is a very real problem with technology.
- There is not enough time in our busy days to allow our children the amount of media that they naturally will want to consume while also fitting in all of the real world play their brains need for healthy development. It causes stress in their lives and ours. We need a digital game plan.
- We have a window of opportunity. The younger your children are when you begin a digital strategy, the easier it will be for them to form good tech habits. Childhood habits are powerful and lasting.
- Tech does not teach our children the important life skills of leadership, responsibility and empathy. Don’t be fooled, being first on the leaderboard in the game doesn’t equate to leading people in real life and running a ‘farm’ in the virtual game does not make one a farmer in real life. Real life skills must be practiced in real life with real hands touching real objects so the brain can make the proper neuronal connections. Virtual skills do not transfer over to real life.
- Hard work is taught by doing hard work. Viewing media and games are not hard work; neither is it healthy play. For children, media is pure entertainment. Children need healthy play for proper brain development. How much passive entertainment vs. healthy outdoor play is necessary for your child?
- Our parenting playing field has changed drastically over the past ten years as our children experiment with new equipment and a new set of rules. We have to learn the rules, learn the danger signs, and restructure our parenting so our children can thrive with all the new changes. We can’t keep our head in the sand.
- Balance is key as we must be careful not to bring our children into the adult media world too fast when they are too young. They deserve a childhood.
We are here to learn and share ideas and help each other, not to criticize or start debates over how many hours of daily gaming is good for a 10 year old, or split hairs over the validity of a research study. My nursing background has allowed me to make sense of the science around this issue but my failures have forced me to look deeper into this subject from a mom perspective, make some changes and continue to stay open to even more changes. The ideas shared on this site may free you from the conflict and pain you may be experiencing with technology overuse. I hope you will be encouraged to follow your mom instincts and protect the heads and the hearts of your children.
We are a real family and we have made some real mistakes (don’t let this formal photo scare you off!), our life gets real messy but we have a lot of real fun too. Take a deep breath, know that some fresh ideas are just a click away and may God bless you on your journey as you learn how to protect your children’s childhood, guide them, then equip them well!
Families Managing Media
Melanie is one of the founders of Families Managing Media (FM2), a local organization providing education in the areas of brain development, gaming addiction, and social media and cell phone management for kids. Having experienced the pain and consequences of gaming overuse in her own home with her oldest of four children, Ms. Hempe is passionate about helping families understand and balance technology with childhood and teenhood. She offers busy parents easy-to-follow scientific information, inspiration and motivation as they create a plan to manage the technology devices and media in their homes. Her practical, tried and true tips will enable parents to discover the joy of reclaiming a healthy childhood for their children of all ages.
Melanie is a Registered Nurse and also has a degree in Christian Education. When she is not helping moms manage their children’s media Melanie can be found planning a trip to the beach, working on her families scrapbooks, or at one of her child’s sporting events with her camera in tow. She is fascinated not so much by technology but by the imagination and creativity of all children who are not hooked on games, and, God’s unconditional love in her life.
© Melanie Hempe, 2014, Moms Managing Media. All Rights Reserved.