The struggle is real. Trying to take away a “screen” from a child or teen (and sometimes an adult) can turn into a mini World War. But it doesn’t have to be.
Screen-time influences our brains and bodies at multiple levels resulting in a range of mental health symptoms related to mood, anxiety, thought processes, and behavior. One of the concerns regarding screen time is the impact screen time could have on brain development. However, does this make screen time actually “bad”? Not necessarily. I have stated about social media, “It’s only as good as its user.” Social media itself is not bad but how the user chooses to manage this medium can be bad. The same is true of screen time. That is why it is necessary to place boundaries around screen time.
Here are some simple ways to implement boundaries for screen time:
- Remember that screen time is a privilege, not a necessity. No law requires you to give your child a tablet, X-box, iPhone, etc. Therefore, just as privileges are given, so they can be taken away and earned back.
- Set boundaries for behaviors in relation to screen time. For instance, if a child is disrespectful in honoring the boundaries set for screen time, you can implement consequences such as them losing time on the iPad and earning it back over time or losing the device for a time.
- You can also implement tools that enable you, with a touch of your phone, to manage their screen time. Ross Githens, an LPC at CDC, suggests the following apps to help with screen time:
- Google WiFi
- A family friendly WiFi router that allows you to put a filter on all internet and allows you to set time limits for children at night or another time you see fit
- Screen Time
- For Apple users allows you to set time limits so you have control of your kid’s phone even when they are away from home
- An app that allows you to monitor their internet and texting. Therefore, if they are bullied or being mean to others, you are notified immediately.
- Google WiFi
- Lastly, the boundaries will be as important to the kids as they are to you. Therefore, being consistent will be critical in setting boundaries around screen time.
Again, screen time doesn’t have to be a war. Implementing the suggestions above can help. However, if you feel you need more help, we would be glad to help you here at CDC.
Peri Reed, M.S., LPC, RPT
Certification for trauma in children and adolescents
Ross Githens, LPC, LAC, CSAT-c