Does your family struggle with managing screen time? I have to admit it has been an on-going battle in my family. I do not fall in the all screen-time is evil camp. I think there is a valid place for visual entertainment in life. I certainly enjoyed my share of television growing up. Screen-time can also be educational. There are so many resources available on-line to learn pretty much anything you would want to learn. Many children also take classes on-line or talk to family and friends via video chat. Never-the-less, there have been many times when my children have spent more time looking at a screen than I would have liked.
There is often guilt associated with allowing your children to have screen time. Almost no one would argue that unlimited screen time is a good thing. Some children suffer from behavioral challenges when they have even a little bit of screen-time (for whatever reason, hand-held devices seem to cause more problems than television viewing). There are also age considerations – a reasonable screen-time limit for a five-year-old is going to look different than a reasonable limit for a young teen.
What is a parent to do when it comes to managing screen time in a family? Ginny Kochis has put together a Screen Saver Family Toolkit: Your Family’s No-Nonsense Guide to Restoring Digital Moderation. It helps give parents the tools that they need to make responsible, thought-out decisions about screen-time for their individual family. Like so many other parenting decisions, what works for one family may not work for another. It is important to consider your own needs and your particular children when making screen-time decisions.
Kochis distinguishes between two types of screen-time: creative and consumable. She also discusses executive function and critical thinking and how to help your children make meaningful choices for entertainment. Screens can certainly be part of those choices, but it is important to help children be aware of other options that they may have. She includes a list of invitations to play that may provide a starting point for other activities. There are also ideas on how to set limits and enforce them.
The Screen Saver Family Toolkit is short but valuable for anyone struggling to manage the screen-time in their homes.