8 easy tips to help manage your kids’ screen time

7. Use media with your child

8 easy tips to help manage your kids’ screen time

In my coaching practice, I have never yet had a parent come to me worried that her child was spending an insufficient amount of time in front of screens. Just about every parent I speak to tells me her child spends too much time in front of a screen and that turning it off is a daily battle.


Does this sound like your family?

Parents today are facing a challenge that no previous generation has ever dealt with. You didn’t grow up with this, there’s no clear path forward, and the technology moves faster than any of us can keep up with.

You’ve given your child various screens so he’s prepared for the future, but these same screens are making it hard to have the family life you envisioned.

Do you have to give up your dreams because the internet is banging on your door? Technology has had an enormous impact on all facets of our lives—work, school and family. Yet all you really want at the end of the day is a quiet evening with your family without having to fight about the devices.

How can you create the family life you want and not become the tech police? Here are eight tips to remember:

1. Your children are watching you

Limit your time online when your child is present. It’s easy to think, “I’ll just take a quick peek.” When you look up, 30 minutes have disappeared.

Be conscious of putting your phone down and making eye contact with your child when you speak. Doing this lets him know that he is more important than any screen.

2. Screens stop annoying behaviors but don’t teach better choices

Young children have big feelings that can erupt like a volcano. Help your child learn to better manage her feelings by being a calm presence and acknowledging those feelings. Technology will never provide the love and understanding that you do.

3. If you work online, help your children understand when you will be free

Yes, there is freedom in working from home. The downside is that your children don’t really understand the difference between working parent and plain old parent. Let them know when you begin working and be clear about when you will be again available to them.

4. Have clear limits about screens

Create screen-free times. Set the stage now for the dinner atmosphere you want when your children are older:

  • No phones at the dinner table
  • No responding to texts or calls during dinner
  • No TV in the background.

This applies to everyone in the family—including the parents. It’s much easier to set these rules and make them the norm in your family when your children are younger than when you are dealing with a 15-year old.

5. Make bedrooms screen-free zones

Your child’s sleep (and by extension, yours) is important to the health and welfare of your family. Screen use is not conducive to sleep. Again, set the rule now to eliminate problems later on.

6. Be an involved parent

Have clear limits on the amount of time your child is exposed to media and technology. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that less is best.

7. Use media with your child

By reading the story online together, you can discuss it with your child, helping her learn at her pace, not the one dictated by the software developer.

8. Young children learn best in the real world

Provide ample opportunities to play in nature and interact with open-ended toys. Children are hands-on learners.

Screens are here to stay. Our job as parents is to model and teach thoughtful and responsible use of the amazing technology at our fingertips. Always remember, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

A version of this article was originally published on Practical Solutions Parent Coaching.

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