How to Create a Screen Time Plan that Works

Every single day, parents are inundated with messages and memes reminding us that screens are bad for our kids. I just saw one last night talking about how a “lap is better than an app.” (Because I needed more guilt about not reading to my kids often enough.) “Limit screen time!” the articles scream at us.

At the introductory meeting, parents were told, “And your child will text you when the practice is over so you can come to pick them up.” Um, text me? Her child doesn’t have a phone! But the expectation at our local middle school is that they will.

What the Experts Say about Screen Time

The AAP recently put out a report that states, when not controlled, the use of screens and devices by children can be linked with many problems, including disrupted sleep, issues with learning and attention, obesity, and depression and withdrawing socially.

Meet Them Where They Are At

But asking young kids today to marvel over smartphones and the internet is like asking my generation (Gen X) to get excited over refrigerators. Having a refrigerator was a huge deal to my grandmother. But I’ve never known life without one.

Positive Screen  Time Use

But, now I tell him, “You can spend an hour on Instagram, but you have to video call your grandparents first.” And, he actually spends quite a bit of time on the phone with them once he is nudged to do it.

Creating a Screentime Plan that Works

You want them to be able to engage in some things that they enjoy doing, even if those things have limited educational value. We just have to make sure that they don’t perseverate on it or that it is detrimental to their well-being.

At what age should a child get a phone?

Our decision was based on a few weather-related incidents, in which his bus did not get home until 5:00 pm and I had no communication from him. Also, we do not have a house phone.

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