Guest Blog: Stop Policing Your Child's Screen Time in 2019
Below is an article from psychotherapist and previous DA Counselor Lana Gollyhorn, M.A., on why parents should stop policing screen time for their child. She offers alternatives to measuring screen time and suggestions for navigating the time spent away from the screen.
I bet you’re tired of fighting with your child when screen time is up and they need to put down their devices. You’ve watched them disengage from life, choosing screens over experiences. The most sustainable and powerful solution I provide in my parenting seminars is this:
Instead of measuring screen time, try tech breaks.
A tech break is a focused break from technology. It’s a chunk of time- minutes to hours- to engage in friendships, nature, exercise, or creative interests.
Tech breaks are completely free of technology, so your child is forced to find something else to do. This allows other interests to rise to top priority; once your child re-engages in a non-tech hobby they remember how much they enjoy it.
Your child will be more cooperative if you collaborate on a specific schedule determined in advance (i.e. 1:00-2:30 p.m., Saturdays or weekdays 5:30-7:00 p.m.)
What’s the difference between tracking screen time vs mandating tech breaks? Isn’t this just a matter of semantics?
Children use numerous devices, concurrently. It’s logistically difficult, if not impossible, to measure actual time interfacing with a screen.
Parents end up not recording screen time, and the child gets a false sense of how much time they spend using devices, being held accountable for less time than their actual use.
Parents become the custodian of screen time and the transition periods, off and on devices, are a continual source of conflict between parents and kids.
Won’t my child say, “I’m bored!” and complain incessantly during their tech breaks?
Tech breaks provide an opportunity for your child to be BORED, aka UNDERSTIMULATED. They aren’t used to this, so it’s initially uncomfortable.
Tech breaks reduce sensory input, allowing children to have thoughts and feelings about their day, relationships, goals etc. instead of pushing emotions aside, anesthetizing them with technology.
Digging out the art supplies, or making plans with friends takes effort. Kids need parental support to get into the habit. Tech breaks allow them to learn (through experience) the value of a balanced life.
To receive a copy of my article, Top Ten Tips for Healthy Family Technology Use click here. If you want 2019 to be different, please join me in my February seminar, The Screen Time Solution. You’ll learn how to stop fighting about screens, teach your child self-regulation, and re-connect as a family. We’ll build a family technology plan that is individualized to your concerns and priorities. Feel free to contact me if you have a child who needs support or you have parenting questions at Lana.Gollyhorn@gmail.com.
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