Tackle the Tech: Screen Time Tips

Parents frequently complain about how much time children spend on their screens. It can become a daily battle for technology, reaching addictive proportions for many children and teens. They seem obsessed with social media, snaps, and games. When denied, they tantrums and rage.

Before the pandemic, I used to advise parents to limit screens to a few hours per week. During the pandemic, the screen was the only access to school and social support. Being held “captive” in quarantine opened the apps and social media again, forcing parents to yield to children’s demands. Now, after the pandemic, I have to help parents with new ways to negotiate screen time.

According to the website, Defend Young Minds, here are 9 questions that can help tackle the technology by setting doable boundaries:

Here are 9 questions to help you establish family screen time boundaries:

  1. Mealtime. Are devices allowed when we are together at meals at home or at restaurants?
  2. Being present. Do we allow face-to-face conversations to be interrupted by a phone call or text?
  3. Time limits. How much screen time should we spend each day?
  4. Location. Where can devices be used? We strongly recommend that children’s devices are used only in common areas of the house and never in bedrooms or bathrooms.
  5. Bedtime. Where are devices recharged at night? We recommend that devices be charged in the parent’s room at night or where kids will not have access.
  6. Asking permission. Do I need to ask before I download apps or games? We recommend utilizing parental controls to disable downloads without permission.
  7. House rules. When friends come over, what restrictions apply to their devices? Some families use a cell phone basket on a counter to corral devices during the visit.
  8. Family visits. When and where can we use our devices when visiting friends or family?
  9. Courtesy. When we are in public, what are the rules for using our devices?

Instead of dictating all of the rules, involve children in the discussion so that they take more ownership. Democracy is better than a dictatorship! Be sure to negotiate consequences for not following the guidelines. Will there be a warning? Parents always have the final word but working together as a family team is the secret to screen management.

Family Meetings

family meetings for parenting success

A family meeting gives every member of the family a chance to express himself freely in all matters of both difficulty and pleasure pertaining to the family. The emphasis should be on “What we can do about the situation.” Meet regularly at the same time each week. Rotate the leader. Keep minutes. Have an equal vote for each member. Only bring those concerns to the family meeting, which are negotiable. Require a consensus, rather than a majority vote on each decision. Some family rules are non-negotiable. Perhaps explanations or reinforcement of a rule would be appropriate.

Have fun together and thereby help to develop a relationship based on enjoyment, mutual respect, love and affection, mutual confidence and trust, and a feeling of belonging. Instead of talking to nag, scold, preach, and correct, utilize talking to maintain a friendly relationship. Speak to your child with the same respect and consideration that you would express to a good friend.