Technology and Screentime Use At Home

March 31, 2021

One of the common questions asked by parents is how much screen time is too much?

As a guide, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry recommends the following:

  • Until 18 months of age limit screen use to video chatting along with an adult (for example, with a parent who is out of town).
  • Between 18 and 24 months screen time should be limited to watching educational programming with a caregiver.
  • For children 2-5, limit non-educational screen time to about 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days.
  • For ages 6 and older, encourage healthy habits and limit activities that include screens.
  • Turn off all screens during family meals and outings.
  • Learn about and use parental controls.
  • Avoid using screens as pacifiers, babysitters, or to stop tantrums.
  • Turn off screens and remove them from bedrooms 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

Some members of our team at The Wise Family have put their heads together on how to manage screentime and offer some insight. Many families are still following safety protocols and social distancing as our country is slowly starting to feel the new norm post-pandemic. Kids are winding down their distance learning studies, hybrid plans and sliding into Spring Break mode.

Rebecca Staines, School/Licensed Professional Counselor

As we have now passed the one-year mark when the pandemic put our families into lockdown and changed all our lives for the long-term, many parents are starting to re-evaluate their approach to technology use at home. When the pandemic first hit, families were in survival mode, and parents were giving their kids and teenagers free reign to use technology throughout the day. Although at the time this may have made sense for the immediate future, families are now starting to feel the impact of technology use on their kids’ mental health and well-being. There is no time like the present to have a family discussion on technology use at home and to set limits.

For kids who are in middle school and high school, explain your reasoning behind limiting technology use. If your child is still virtual for school, consider having your child’s phone out of sight and unavailable during the regular hours of a school day. If kids want to have time on their phones, have designated time in the evening when this is allowed. The weather is also starting to warm up, and this means more opportunities for outside time. Go on a walk with your child before directly handing them their phone when school ends. Have time for kids to exercise, play, and create that is not contingent on technology use.

There will certainly be an adjustment period, but if your expectations are clear and consistent, eventually your kids will adapt just as they did at the beginning of the pandemic.

Kasey Cain, Licensed Professional Counselor

I get a lot of questions from parents about technology. How much screen time is too much? Is technology rotting my kid’s brain? How do I keep my child safe online?

These questions are tricky for me. While children today have never known a world without a smartphone, Google, and social media, I grew up with VHS tapes and a Walkman. I remember the amazement of getting our first desktop computer and dot matrix printer with the special paper. For those in the younger set, I’ve included a picture. 🙂 I got my first email address when I entered college and still prefer a notebook to a laptop or tablet.

As a parent, I wonder the same things that parents ask me. Are my kids having too much screen time? Is their brain development being affected? Are they safe online? These questions represent our inner struggle as adults to manage our own relationship with technology. In this digitally connected world, I will, most likely, always be a step behind my own children and those I work with when it comes to technology. Since I know I have a continual learning curve with technology I rely on reading and research. My favorite site is Common Sense Media. Common Sense’s mission is “to ensure digital well-being for kids everywhere.” 

Digital Well-Being Recommendations: 

  • Rating movies, tv shows, books, etc to help families make choices about the media they consume
  • Ongoing research that provides data on the “impact of media and tech use on kids’ physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.”
  • Providing schools, parents, and children with digital citizenship lessons and resources to support making healthy choices in an online world.

Through my ongoing learning, I have realized, that like most things, technology isn’t all good or all bad. Instead, it has real challenges and real benefits. With the support of reputable sources and expert research, we can learn together and help our kids stay safe and thrive. I look forward to learning alongside you!

Until next time, Be Wise!