Children are now faced with increasingly more options for screened entertainment, leaving families disconnected and disengaged. Learn Positive Discipline tools that will help you and your children connect more with each other and find a balance in your family's media use.
Would it surprise you to know that 2-5-year-olds watch more than 32 hours of TV a week? (Nielsen) Children ages 8-18 spend more than 53 hours a week online and almost 8 hours of media use each day. (Keiser Family Foundation) In today’s digital world, families are exposed to more screen time than ever before. Smartphones, tablets, YouTube and the ever-popular game, Minecraft are just a few of the many sources of electronic connection that vie for time and attention from both parents and children.
There is research that demonstrates how the brain develops differently with excessive screen time, so it is true that screen time does affect a child’s development. But my guess is that you don’t need research to know that your children are on their screens too much each day; you know this from your own wisdom and intuition. Maybe you’re not sure what to do about it, or you’ve avoided doing something about it because…
- You don’t like to admit that it is nice to have your children so easily entertained so you can have some time to yourself.
- It involves such a power struggle to get the kids to disconnect from their devices. It is easier to just let it go.
- You don’t realize that screen time is addictive.
- You justify it with the benefits technology brings: “Look at all the skills my child is learning.”
Try these Positive Discipline tools to help manage your family’s screen time so it doesn’t manage you:
- Have a family meeting. Get the whole family involved in a plan for reducing screen time. Part of the solutions should include things to do in place of screen time. It is more difficult to give something up when you don’t have plans for what else to do.
- Create a “parking lot” for electronics—have a basket or charging station in a central location in the house at which family members “park” their electronics during certain times of day.
- Establish new routines. Start with one time of day to be screen free (such as dinner) and periodically add on other times of day.
- Stay close with your child with special time. Children will listen to your limits about screen time when they feel understood and that you “get” them. Spend regular one-on-one time together to keep your relationship strong.
- Hold limits with kindness and firmness. Changing a screen time habit is hard; be ready for disappointment, anger, and sad feelings. Hold your limits by empathizing with a child’s feelings and sticking with the limit you’ve set.