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Back-to-School Reset: 4 Tips on Managing Devices and Screen Time for Families

Ease the transition back to the classroom with these tips and resources.

Parent/caregiver using a tablet with two young children

It's that time of year again -- kids are heading back to school! For lots of reasons, family routines can get disrupted during the summer, from morning routines and bedtimes to TV and video game limits.

Now's a great time to check in as a family on expectations related to technology and entertainment. The tips and resources here can help you reset rules for screen time, have conversations about using tech in safe and healthy ways, and ease your kids' transition back to learning in the classroom.

Educators can use this back-to-school checklist to kick off the school year with positive tech and media use.

Bring back family screen time rules.

The start of the new school year is a great time to revisit family rules about screen time and technology. Talk with your kids about when, where, how, and for how long they should be using devices and tech, and then create a plan together with these family media agreements:

Learn ways to keep screen time healthy for your family.

Many parents and caregivers worry about the effects of screen time and social media on kids' mental and physical health. Learn new strategies for supporting your kids' healthy development in the digital age with these great resources:

  • Common Sense Media Tips by Text (for families with young children). Just text the word "kids" to the number 21555. ​​You'll get tips on how your children can use technology in healthy ways. Plus the latest entertainment picks for your family!

  • Digital Connections (for families with tweens and teens). This informative and educational video series can help students and their families learn tips and strategies for using technology safely and responsibly. Created by Common Sense Education in collaboration with AT&T and the Public Library Association.

  • Parenting Tips for the Online World. Families with kids of all ages can find articles and FAQs on how to keep kids safe, healthy, and learning online.

Get ready to use tech for school.

Most kids now use some kind of technology for school or homework. Whether it's on a school-issued device or a family laptop, it's important to set some ground rules for how kids use tech for learning. Fill out these learning agreements with your child to start the conversation:

If you need help paying for high-speed internet, be sure to check out the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP gives a $30/month discount on your internet service if you qualify.

Brush up on skills before school starts.

Don't stress if your kid didn't crack open their math workbook this summer. Yes, it's possible your kid forgot some of the skills they learned last year. But fortunately, there are some great tools to get them back on track. Give them a head start with these apps and websites for learning:

Erin Wilkey Oh

Erin’s work has focused on supporting students, teachers, and families for over a decade. As content director for family and community engagement at Common Sense, she provides parents and caregivers with practical tips and strategies for managing media and tech at home, and supports teachers in strengthening partnerships with families. Prior to her work with Common Sense, Erin taught public high school students and adult English learners in Kansas City. Her time as a National Writing Project teacher consultant nurtured her passion for student digital creation and media literacy. She has bachelor's degrees in English and secondary education and a master's degree in instructional design and technology. Erin loves to knit, read, hike, and bake. But who has time for hobbies with two young kids? In her free time these days, you'll find her hanging out at playgrounds, the zoo, and the beach with her family.