Navigating Screen Time in your Family

On Tuesday night we had a thought-provoking and stimulating discussion with Parents Who Fight on how to begin navigating screen time within our families. For those who could not attend, here are some highlights:

Some statistics:

  • 65% of parents say their kids have too much time on devices (2018 survey)

  • 1/3 of parents say they argue daily with their children about screen time (Common Sense Media survey)

What technology is doing to our kids:

  • Studies came out in 2018 showing a correlation between ADD/ADHD and screen time

  • Richard Bromley, clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School - Excessive screen time can affect academic performance, attention, social interactions, sleep, etc.

  • Recent research suggests extended screen time is affecting the way the brain grows.

  • Nicholas Cardaras, author of “Glow Kids,” suggests the best thing you can do as a parent is to delay access for your kids.

Kids need: (1) Boundaries, (2) Balance, and (3) Accountability

  • Boundaries - In the elementary school years, you must be thinking a few years ahead - “what’s our plan?” What are your boundaries in regards to smartphones, social media and video games?

    • Wait Until 8th organization - parents pledging to wait until 8th grade to give their kid a smartphone in order to reverse the peer pressure.

    • The law for social media is you must be 13 or older.

    • Delay the use of video games if you can - specifically, video games that are not age appropriate. Pay attention to ratings of video games. Biggest example of this is Fortnite - rated “T” for Teen.

  • Balance - How do we balance screen time? How much time should we spend? What kind of content should kids be consuming?

    • Instead of starting with how much time should kids have on a screen, start with how much sleep are they getting (9-11 hours recommended), how much exercise are they getting (60 minutes recommended), etc.? Identify all the priorities and then determine how much time is left.

    • Monitor your child’s screen time - know how much time they’re spending - and use that data to determine how much is too much.

    • Look at the nature of screen time - Is it just consumptive? Is it creative? Is it productive?

    • How else is your child spending his/her time? As they age, it will be become increasingly important for them to have outlets other than screens.

    • Sit down and make a plan with your kids about what balance looks like in your home. For each new device that comes into the home, have a family meeting about the guidelines for that device.

  • Accountability - Be empowered to monitor how much time your kids are spending on screens and what they’re doing on them.

    • Hold your children accountable for the boundaries you have set up.

    • Be completely transparent in your relationship to your kids and technology - meaning you know every password, you will keep track of everywhere your child goes online.

    • Screens should be used in common areas - open space and the screen visible to parents. Use of screens in the bedroom, at bedtime, is not a precedent you want to set as your children get older.

    • If your child goes online and watches YouTube, don't use headphones so you can hear what your child is watching.

Parents need: (1) Tools, (2) Endurance, and (3) Community

  • Tools - There are a plethora of tools available to help parents navigate the issue of screen time with their kids - offering alternatives to screen time and solutions for managing and monitoring screen time.

    • Drive Along - cards to stimulate conversation while in the car instead of using screens. Kids want to be engaged by parents in conversation.

    • “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures” - Book geared to young kids to explain what pornography is, why it's dangerous, and how to reject it.

    • Four layer strategy to help parents manage and monitor online activity:
      (1) Wifi - i.e., Circle by Disney,
      (2) Devices - i.e., iOS 12 “Screentime”
      (3) Apps
      (4) Search - Google & YouTube the worst!
      Parents Who Fight have a 20-minute video on their 4-Point Technology Strategy on Vimeo. Watch it here - password PWF.

    • Set the precedent very early that everything your kid uses is going to have boundaries.

    • Protect Young Minds website has device-specific instructions on parental controls.

    • Google Activity - shows you what websites have been visited, how much time has been spent, and other history even if it has been deleted.

  • Endurance - Goes hand-in-hand with delaying certain technology-use for kids. As parents, we are working to train our kids well to eventually be able to use devices wisely and safely, and this means we’ll need to go at a much slower pace with technology than we think.

  • Community - Parents need partners in the technology journey. Don’t be afraid to start conversations with other parents about how they’re navigating devices within their homes. Find like-minded people to partner up with.

We also recorded the presentation on Facebook Live. Unfortunately due to signal issues the picture is not clear and audio is a little glitchy, but the majority of the content is there. You may watch/listen on our Facebook page.

Jesse and Sarah Siegand from  Parents Who Fight

Jesse and Sarah Siegand from Parents Who Fight