Currently, a conversation about screen time is occurring on my area listserv. It’s interesting to read various points of view. Some people feel that various apps designed to limit screen time and other digital activities are the way to go. Others point to need to be hands-on about contracts, agreements, and digital rules of the road. Almost everyone seems to be frustrated about defining the line between schoolwork and recreational screen times. Twenty-first Century digital parenting never lacks for challenges!
Over the years, however, many parents have consistently told me about four effective steps they have taken when it comes to screen time.
- Remove screens from kids’ bedrooms, and sometimes also in the adult sleeping areas. Make bedrooms, as much as possible, places where family members get good sleep.
- Arrange for a public homework area where children of all ages can work on school-related work (not in bedrooms).
- Install a switch that turns off wifi at a certain time each evening.
- Identify and plan for device-free times at home (parent devices included).
Notice that none of these involve an app or program that keeps track of screen time. That’s because kids figure out hacks to get around many of these apps, no matter how locked down things are. In my post, No Surprise that Kids Figure Out Parental Controls, I describe a mid-2019 Washington Post article and share my past experiences listening to middle schoolers when they spoke about various topics in my computer classroom.
I concluded that a family media plan with rules, consequences, and specific places at home for device use (not the bedroom) were the most effective strategies.
Some Articles to Read
- Check out my contracts, agreements, and digital parenting resources page.
- Do Not Let Children Take Electronic Devices Into Bedrooms, Say Doctors – The Guardian
- Why Limit Your Child’s Screen Use – HealthyChild.org on the American Academy of Pediatrics website
- Electronics in the Bedroom: Why it’s Necessary to Turn Off Before You Tuck In – The Sleep Foundation