HOW TO IMPLEMENT RULES AROUND SCREEN TIME
First things first, you are the one modeling screen behavior to your kiddos. The effect the devices have on you and your children is the same, the only difference, though it is a significant one, is that you remember how things used to be before the internet with all its benefits and “traps”. Model good attention practices like consciously using your own devices, using only one of them at a time, and letting your kids know what you are doing on your phone (business or pleasure, explain in more detail than just “working” or “I’m on my phone now”). Then, when you can give them attention because you have finished work or finished you screen “me time”, give your kids your undivided attention.
Some other things that you can do are:
DEFINE RULES & BOUNDARIES: Rules create a routine, and routines decrease anxiety. Now that the future is uncertain and circumstances keep changing, it’s even more important to create safety within your home. Leith suggests absolutely no screen time before sleep and school because those are times when calm is needed to rest or to take in new information. No screens during meals when there’s so much sensory stimuli and so much opportunity to bond. Consciously disengage, possibly as a family, and choose to, for example, leave your phone(s) in another room during charging or during certain times of day. Don’t use screen time as a reward – incorporate it into the daily routine so that it could be consciously taken advantage of to your kiddo’s benefit.
CATEGORIZE SCREEN TIME: online school time are inevitable and shouldn’t count under screen time just as the work you do on your computer doesn’t count into yours; gaming might not be the same as scrolling social media, etc. Using technology as a fantastic tool (learning or FaceTiming friends and family, for example) is not the same as passive engagement.
Leith answered some of your excellent questions (like what to do about your child's peers and other families having different screen time practices) and shared her own stories and real-life examples that might change your perspective and improve your entire family’s everyday. Screen time is not just a relatively new issue that is hard to navigate with kids born into the digital era – it’s one of the key issues of our time that affects everyone, on the level of individuals, community, society, and the world as a whole. Have an open conversation with your kids, but don’t forget to occasionally put your phone away and have an open conversation with other adults and yourself.