Here is how two families are navigating the question: Is some screen time “better” than others?

My clients, let’s call them The Smiths, have been thinking a lot about screen time lately. They have 2 teens, 13 and 15 years old.

What I want to highlight is that The Smiths are basing their limits on their family values.

Their goal: for their kids to leverage technology for positive ends rather than experience it as a compulsion or a crutch. They want to encourage a healthy balance of online and offline, real life social interaction.

So, The Smiths have divided screen time into these categories: screens for entertainment (Netflix, Minecraft, You Tube, IG), for music (Spotify), for communication/relationships with friends/family (videochat, chat), for learning (online tutorials, educational videos) and hobbies (video editing, creating music and comics).

Their limits:

  • No limits on access to music.
  • Entertainment and communication time is lumped together and limited to weekends (2 hours on Friday, 1 hour each day Sat and Sun – they each have a Chrome book for this, no tablets, phones, tv or consoles).
  • They can use that time for any other purpose as well. For video editing (including learning) they allow 3 hours total to be used between M-Th during summer and 2 hours during school months.
  • For communication kids get one hour per day.

Other families label certain online activities “Educational” and allow more time for those purposes than “Games” or “Entertainment”.

Another single mom recognizes she has a problem disengaging from tech and that her tech engagement doesn’t really make her happy. GIven that awareness, she is helping her kids develop a healthier relationship with screens. She asks her kids to notice when they are “tethered” (when the technology is a compulsion) and take time without tech to reset. She gives her 7 and 8 year olds 1 hour a day to spend on games during the week and 3 on weekends. Overall, she’s pleased that they are more thoughtful about the role of screens in their life.

What are your family values? Do your kids’ screen time rules reflect your values?

If you would like to dig further into how to set limits that are best for your family, I would love to connect with you.  You can book free 20 minute family screen time assessment call with me here.

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