Screen time is definitely a hot parenting topic right now. It's complicated and tricky to know the boundaries you should be setting and the rules you should be coming up with. While one parent will tell you that they're super rigid, another will be much looser and flexible, and you might want to find more of a middle ground.
Like everything in life and in parenting, you can definitely find a balance with screen time. Here are five screen time rules that make sense, along with five rules that are too strict.
10 Makes Sense: Put Phones Away During Family Time
It's not uncommon to go out for dinner as a family or spend some time together at home and realize that everyone is on their own device. Screen time has become a big part of our lives so it can feel overwhelming. How do you possibly cut down on it?
A good idea could be putting phones away during family time. This could mean breakfast, dinner, movie nights, activities outside the home, etc. That will ensure that everyone is spending quality time together and not staring at cell phones or laptops too much.
9 Too Strict: No TV Ever
Some people aren't big on TV, which is totally fair, but it might be too strict to tell your children that they're never allowed to watch TV. While there are definitely some TV shows and movies that aren't worth watching, there are just as many that are entertaining or even educational.
Kids might feel like they're missing out if they can never watch TV, so as long as you set some boundaries so they're not watching it for hours upon hour at a time, it should be fine to allow some TV time.
8 Makes Sense: Putting Reasonable Limits On Phone Use
Whether your kids are in their high school years or under the age of 12, no one should be using their phone for hours at a time. It can create eye strain and you miss out on doing a lot of things.
It seems logical to put some reasonable limits on phone use. You can tell your kids that they can use their phone for a certain period of time each day. You could also say that if they're eating, they shouldn't be texting or scrolling social media.
7 Too Strict: Not Allowing Your Kid To Have A Phone At All
Every year, it seems like younger and younger kids have their own cell phones. Even children in elementary school sometimes have their own phones.
Even if you'd rather that your kid wait until they were in late teens to have their own cell phone, the truth is that might not be super realistic. It's too strict to tell your child that they can't have a phone at all, especially since their friends will have them and they're going to feel really left out. It's reasonable to say that they have to wait until age 12 or 13.
6 Makes Sense: No Screens On Weeknights After Homework Is Done
These days, it seems like we all spend our free time using social media, texting, looking things up online, and just generally using our phones. Sometimes we even use our phones or laptops while watching TV or a movie, which is definitely a lot of screen time.
If you want to set some restrictions and boundaries on the times that your kids are staring at screens during the week, that makes sense. A logical rule could be saying no screens on weeknights once they've finished their homework. That will ensure that you're saving time in their schedule for reading and playing, depending on their age, and that they're not watching too much TV or playing too many video games.
5 Too Strict: Screen Time Only On The Weekend
On the other hand, if you decide that screen time should only happen on the weekend, that is too strict. Your kids will say that they need their laptop or phone for homework, which is definitely true since they want to look things up, and they might want to text their friends for a little bit.
If you save screen time for weekends only, it might make kids want to rebel or complain, since being told that you can't do something is definitely tough to swallow. Being too strict might also make screen time feel like a really big deal and your children might want to spend even more time on their phone.
4 Makes Sense: Have A Family iPad
In some households, every child has their own iPad. If you think that's too much, that's totally fair, so you might want to set some restrictions.
A screen time rule that makes a lot of sense is having a family iPad. That way, everyone can share and no one is spending too much time using it. As long as there are some set times that each member of the family can use it, that will help keep the peace.
3 Too Strict: Worrying About Video Games
You might be worried about your kids playing video games because you don't want them to spend quite so much time staring at the TV. Or maybe you're concerned about violent games.
Both of these things are totally fair, but telling your children that they can't play video games at all might be too rigid and strict. It's better to talk to them about what games you can all agree are appropriate for them and to set some boundaries about how much time is spent.
2 Makes Sense: Wanting To Know What Your Kids Are Looking At
Whether your children are using the iPad, their laptop, or cell phone, you can definitely talk to them about what they're looking at. It's totally your place as their parent to know which social media accounts they're following and what websites they love to visit.
It's a good idea to talk to them regularly about this subject and say that it's part of your screen time rules.
1 Too Strict: Looking Through Your Kids' Phones
Even if you want to look through your kids' phones, that's definitely a bit too strict, so it's best to have regular conversations and keep the communication lines open.
Everyone likes and needs their privacy, so it's good to show your kids that you trust them. Screen time is tricky but once you figure out some rules that work for your family, then it'll be much more smooth sailing.