Do you have a child that spends too much time on screens? Do you spend too much time on screens? I can just see you raising your hand. Screen management is clearly an issue for our time as parents, adults, and children. Instead of bashing on-screen use by saying "do less", "turn it off", "you spend too much time" let's work toward some good habits that help all of us establish a healthy balance. If you are looking for more tips on how to parent teens in general, Aileen of findmykids.org gives great tips on how to parent teens as well as tips other ages.
Our founder Chris Cochella helped bring the movie Screenagers to his daughter's high school as well as Boulder Country Day School. For those of you that don't know about the Screenagers movie, it is a movie that fosters dialogue among kids, between parents and kids, and the community at large.
After each movie showing the audience engaged with psychologists and school directors. We wanted to share the outcome of these discussions. Below are the top 10 habits for screen use discussed with real parents and kids. Each of these habits should involve everyone--kids and parents alike! Remember, people support what they help create.
Define your family’s Technology Principles – What are the main reasons we want to have balance in our lives regarding screen time and other activities?
Talk weekly with your children about their technology use. Keep this an open dialog about what is working well or fun. What don't we like about screen use.
Designate a device-free family time. Set these up as agreed-upon rules and a place where the screens live during this time.
Schedule device-free social activities like sports, lessons, and volunteering. We are 3D people and live and thrive in a 3D world. Let go of that 2D device world.
Keep devices out of the bedroom during sleeping hours. Sleep, especially for developing brains, is sacred.
Be an educated parent. Signup for updates on device use and the habits of kids of the same ages.
Stay abreast of the latest trends through email newsletters. (Recommendations below)
Share and connect with other parents in person. Talk about what is working and not working. Talk about how you, as parents, can set a good example.
Deploy monitoring and blocking strategies in your household. (See resources below). We included it because it is relevant. However, be careful here. Implementing invasive monitoring methods is a part-time job and could backfire. We feel it is better to have open dialogues with your children than risk closing off communication through blocking and monitoring.
Keep in mind that we have evolved over many millennia to be social creatures living and interacting with 3-D space. Sure devices have a social nature but nothing like an in-person conversation or hug. Moreover, devices are largely 2-D thereby eliminating our 3-D interactions. No matter your opinion on device use, it is a fact that products, travel, culture, food, shelter and so on exist in our 3-D world. To be a participant in the world necessitates a relationship with space.
Common Sense Media - Empowers parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.
Above The Fray - Program to educate parents and teachers about what life is really like online for young people and to give adults the tools they need to begin meaningful dialogues at home and at school.
Richard Freed, Ph.D. - Child and adolescent psychologist, speaker and author of "Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age"