Screentime is addictive and interferes with relationships. There is research that demonstrates how the brain develops differently with excessive screen time, so it is true that screen time does affect a child’s development.
But my guess is that you don’t need research to know that your children are on their screens too much each day; you know this from your own wisdom and intuition. The key lies in finding a balance. Yes, kids are keeping up with technology and learning new skills that will help them if their lives. And yes, too much media use does prevent them from becoming proficient in person-to-person communication skills.
Try these ways to help manage your family’s screen time so it doesn’t manage you:
Have a Family Meeting. Get the whole family involved in a plan for reducing screen time. Part of the solutions should include things to do in place of screen time. It is more difficult to give something up when you don’t have plans for what else to do.
Create a “parking lot” for electronics—have a basket or charging station in a central location in the house at which family members “park” their electronics during certain times of day.
Establish new routines. Start with one time of day to be screen free (such as dinner) and periodically add on other times of day.
Stay close with your child with Special Time. Children will listen to your limits about screen time when they feel understood and that you “get” them.
Spend regular one-on-one time together to keep your relationship strong.
Hold limits with Kindness and Firmness. Changing a screen time habit is hard; be ready for disappointment, anger, and sad feelings. Hold your limits by empathizing with a child’s feelings and sticking with the limit you’ve set.