If you struggle with managing screen time for your kids, you’re not alone.
The massive increase in screen time over the past several years is taking a toll on kids and parents. These devices and platforms bring benefits, but there are trade-offs in terms of the impact on development, brain function, and mental health.
We’re navigating the landscape of supporting our kids’ health and development amidst a never-before-seen array of devices, screen time, social media, internet access, and more. With no clear roadmap.
One of the questions I’m often asked is about how to set boundaries around screen time. There are lots of things to consider, including the age and needs of each child. We can’t look to our own experiences growing up, or what previous generations of parents and other adults did. It wasn’t a thing then.
A few thoughts:
1) Parent modeling is critical. If we want them to develop healthy device habits, that starts with us. What do they see us making time for? What is their experience of our use of tech? Your own modeling is the one thing you are always in control of, so start there if you’re unsure what else to do.
2) Consider boundaries around time not as an arbitrary amount, but in terms of priorities. What do we value as a family? What are the things we want/need to accomplish daily? Where does leisure time on devices fit, and what priorities come first?
3) Communicate with kids about these issues. Educate them about concerns around screen time, use of social media, etc. Ask about their observations and concerns. Point out what you notice. Collaborate, when appropriate, on expectations and boundaries.
4) Understand that if you are going to allow your kids to access devices, it’s your responsibility to be involved and guide them. This is an uncomfortable truth for many parents who complain about how excessive screen time, social media use, etc. are contributing to the behavioral and mental health problems their kids are facing, but don’t understand the role they play in that. We don’t give kids the keys to a Ferrari and tell them “Good luck!”, but that’s the equivalent of what goes on when we give a child a smart phone or other internet connected device without education, limits, and ongoing guidance.
Being a parent today means adding tech-related issues to the list of things we need to manage, whether we like it or not. It’s challenging, but necessary – for us and for them.
If you would like more information on how your kids can develop healthy device habits without increasing family stress levels, check out my Better Behavior in a Digital World workshop.
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