The battle between parents and their kids about screen time seems universal. The reason is
simple: today's kids are growing up with technology like no other generation has before. While I grew up with a house phone attached to a wall in the kitchen, our kids have no clue how to even dial a rotary phone. (It's hilarious to watch them try to figure it out!).
Screen time for us was watching tv in the living room, not carrying around a device that gives you 24 hour a day access to everything. Our little ones are learning to play games on mom or dad's Ipad as soon as they are sitting up, 5-year-olds have favorite Youtube channels and our teens "talk with friends" through texts even if they are in the same room! Let's be honest, we are on our phones with social media and texting hundreds of times a day, so our kids don't see it as unusual behavior. In fact, they actually feel lost without their phones in their hands. So, how much is too much? This is a question I'm asked all the time! There isn't a set answer for that. Some experts say 2 hours a day for young kids, 6-8 hours for older kids (including time spent using technology for homework). Others say limit it to an hour a day for little ones, 3 hours tops for older kids (I'm guessing these "experts" don't have kids of their own?!) I think quality is just as important to consider as quantity. Setting a solid rule of 1 hour a day after school may sound great, but if a child is researching a new idea or interacting with some learning format, you might be willing to extend their time. My youngest happened to be into computer coding at an early age, so he spent many hours on the family computer digging into the coding of games to figure out "how" things are done. It actually was the beginning of what is now his career as an app developer. Something else to consider is all the homework assignments that need to be done online. Many schools have switched to assignments that can be submitted via a website instead of being hand written and turned in. There are so many variables that fall into play with technology. Instead of giving you hard and fast rules for time limits, I'm going to recommend setting some boundaries. I base these suggestions on game plans I've helped other parents successfully set up within their own family. 1. Model the behavior you want to see in your kids. If you're always on the phone, even when your kids are trying to ask you questions, then they will think it's okay to behave the same way. Think about small changes such as: * Avoiding texting and driving, no text is worth a possible car accident * Putting the phone on silent and laying it face down (so you can't see notifications) during conversations * Using a "family charging station" and setting a time when all family phones are docked each night 2. Set "tech free" times that everyone follows (yes, that includes you!) In our family, dinner time was an absolute screen free time. Phones aren't allowed at the table, preventing us from "just checking on something." 3. Have tech free friend time. Believe it or not, some kids' version of "hanging out" together means everyone is on social media or texting with each other in the same room! Instead be that parent and make them hang out and actually have conversations! (For 20 fun conversation starter questions, click here.) One mom I know has a basket at the front door and friends drop their phone in the basket on their way in the door. BRILLIANT! Her kids hated it at first, but now their home is the home everyone hangs out playing pool or darts, playing soccer in the backyard and (dare I say it?) board games! 4. Don't allow screens in the bedroom
So many teens admit to texting with friends, watching videos, updating their social media posts well into the night. This is leading to a lack of sleep, bad attitudes in the morning and poor performance in their classes. Research shows that turning off screens 2 hours before bedtime helps the body settle into a better sleep pattern. I think this is a great suggestion for kids and adults alike! For additional information about the cost of technology on our teens,