The Challenge of Screen-Time

During Coronavirus, screens became our lifeline to the outer world: school, work, friends, and family. Now it is time to renegotiate or reset your children’s relationships with their devices. A daunting task. But it can be accomplished with creativity, compromise, and collaboration.

When developing your family schedule, first decide with your child how much screen-time is the daily quota. This does not include earned screen-time. You must agree so plan to negotiate and compromise. Remember the transition to summer with Covid slowly resolving will be tough with regard to screen-time. Be kind and flexible.

When you are negotiating with your kids, ask them what they are actually doing on their phones.  If they are playing a game with friends or another socially connecting activities via devices, that should impact the total screen-time allowed. This is a good habit to get into: knowing what your kids are actually doing on their devices.

While there is debate about how much is too much, a reasonable estimate would be about 2-3 hours of recreational screen time per day.

Once you have set the daily amount of screen-time for each of your kids, build in earned screen-time. Attach the earned or bonus screen-time to encourage completion of tasks, kind language,  getting along with their siblings, and any other relevant issue in your home.

Set a policy of no phones/tablets/laptops in your kids’ bedrooms at night.  If they need to fall asleep to music, get them an Alexa. This may be a hard change for your kids, but remember you are still the parent and this sets a good precedent as you transition away from Covid.

Establish tech-free zones! Have certain rooms in the house and circumstances in which no tech is allowed. For instance, no screens are allowed at mealtimes or in the bathroom. Maybe even don’t allow devices when traveling in the car on errands and short trips.

Make sure you set your parental control on their devices.  You also can turn off your home’s WiFi. Set parental controls on Netflix, Hulu, etc.

One screen at a time. If you are doing a family movie night or your kids are watching a show, set a rule that other screen use is not allowed.

Finally, make sure you are acting as a role model by not always being on your phone. Put it down at meals. Put your phone away and be present this summer and enjoy your family!