Parents Trying to Limit Kids' Screen Time Should Start With Their Own

family on tablets

If you've been busy yelling at your kids this summer about how much time they've spent playing Fortnite or watching videos of people playing Fortnite on YouTube, you first may want to check how much time you're spending on your phone.

A survey conducted by Common Sense Media recently revealed that kids aren't the only ones spending way too much time glued to screens. It seems that parents are spending more than nine, yes you read that right, nine hours a day looking at screens! What makes that number even more shocking is that only about 90 minutes of that 9 hours was spent on work related tasks.

“This is just a shocking study, in my opinion,” James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, told NBC News. “I think it shows us that, just like our kids, American parents live in a 24/7 world of media and technology.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the report, which surveyed 1700 parents, found that 78% of those parents felt they modelling appropriate screen time behavior for their kids.

“So there's a pretty big disconnect there. You could even say it's a little hypocritical,” Steyer said.

“How can you be a good role model for your kids if you yourself don't find the appropriate balance in terms of media and tech use in your own life?”

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It's a question many parents have struggled with. Are we on our phones too much? Are we too addicted to technology? Are we hypocrites telling our kids to get outside and play while we sit and scroll through Facebook, Instagram or any other popular social media app? Steyer admits even he was surprised at the findings.

“It's a wake-up call to every parent out there about how to role model this kind of behavior for our kids - how to set healthy balances.”

family on devices
Credit: iStock / Wavebreakmedia

While over 78% of parents stated that devices aren't allowed during meal times and 63% said that devices weren't allowed at bedtime, it seems that parents have a long way to go to ensure that both kids and adults are limiting their screen time. If we want our kids to be spending less time in front of a screen and more time outside and participating in activities, Steyer suggests parents set the example themselves.

"Children are great mimics, which is why it is so important that parents introduce real boundaries and balance early on," he said. "Media will always be a part of life, and every family is different, but in general, we recommend that parents set rules and clear plans so that kids understand what is appropriate."

Steyer knows that we can't get rid of all media use in a home, but this survey is definitely a wake up call for many parents who were concerned about their own childen's screen time without realizing they may also have to make a concerted effort to reduce the time they spend in front of a screen.

“Media and tech are here to stay in our kids' lives," Steyer told NBC. "We're not saying they're terrible things. We're saying use them wisely, appropriately, have a healthy media diet for yourself just as you want to have a healthy media diet for your kids.”

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