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How Can I Help My Kids Develop Good Screen Time Habits?

Topics: Screen Time
Q&A

With older kids and teens spending more time on screens than ever before, it's natural for parents and caregivers to wonder if it's affecting their children's well-being. When it comes to screen time, it's important to make sure kids balance their time on devices with other activities that help them learn and grow.

Here are some strategies for helping your whole family develop a healthy relationship with screens.

Set limits. Establish screen-free zones and weekly screen-time amounts. Aim for a balance of activities throughout the week: reading, playing, spending time with family and friends, and so on. You can also create a family media agreement with your child and revise the rules as needed.

Choose age-appropriate, high-quality content. Not everything has to be educational, but when choosing entertainment for young kids, think about how it engages your child. If you have older kids, check out online reviews together and help them look for shows, games, and apps that allow them to explore their interests, get creative, and connect with others.

Watch and play together when you can. You won't be able to stop what you're doing every time your kid plays Minecraft, but make an effort to understand -- and even appreciate -- what your kids are doing. Ask questions, get them to explain stuff, and listen with an open mind.

Treat tech as a tool, not a treat. Kids who use tablets or smartphones just to play games or watch shows see only the entertainment side of technology. Show them how you can use devices for other tasks, such as sending emails, getting directions, and looking up information.

Be a family of media critics. Help your kids think critically about what they watch, play, and interact with by talking about it. Encourage them to think more deeply about the shows, books, and games they enjoy. Ask questions like, Who made this? Why do you like this character? Does it remind you of anything?

Be a role model. Lead by example and put your own devices away during family time. Mute notifications during mealtimes, turn off the television when no one is watching it, and try not to multitask while using devices.

Common Sense Media

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