From our experience, screen time management can be particularly difficult for families of children who are experiencing emotional and behavioural challenges as:
- The children often use devices to regulate their emotions.
- Parents are often experiencing more stress than the “average” parent and find it challenging to find the emotional resources to manage technology with their children.
- These children often experience stronger than average frustration and disappointment – meaning turning screens off is even more difficult.
Here are some suggestions for managing screen time within your family.
Create rules/routines about technology usage in your home and apply them consistently
Setting clear limits can help your child understand your family’s expectations and help to minimise conflict about screen use. Consider screen time hours, when and where children can use screens. What about weekends, holidays, “binge days,” and technology-free days?
Praise your child when they comply with the limits
Reward your child when they disconnect from their devices and adhere to the family limits. Be specific with the behaviour you are happy to see, for example:
- “Thank you for turning off your iPad when the screen time was up.”
- “I’m really impressed that you stopped the game when I asked you to.”
Talk compassionately about the difficulty in reducing screen time
Validate your child’s feelings concerning reducing screen time, for example:
- “I know it’s tough to put the iPad away.”
- “Sometimes I find it hard to put my phone away too.”
Have conversations about some of the downsides of technology
Have open conversations with your child about the potential issues of having too much device time or accessing the wrong type of technology. Some such issues include difficulties sleeping, reduced family time, reduced time spent outside/being active, exposure to inappropriate material, cyberbullying, etc.
Conversation starter ideas include:
- “Let’s discuss some of the dangers of playing online games with people you don’t know.”
- “What do you think might happen if people spend too much time on technology?”
- “Let’s talk about what might happen to our sleep if we use technology too close to bedtime.”
If you need more guidance on achieving the right balance with managing your children’s usage of technology, please don’t hesitate to contact Better Self Psychology.
More information on the use of parental controls
Most technology products provide information about setting up parental device controls. You may choose to set time restrictions, limit certain apps, receive notifications on your phone for approving new apps, etc. The following links provide some useful resources on how to control usage on most of the commonly used devices.
iPhone And iPad
- Allows time restrictions, limiting specific apps, and parental control over downloads and purchases.
- Allows restrictions on time and access to content.
- Allows parents/carers to set time limits and controls on which games can be played.
- Allows restriction of which games your child can play and who they can communicate with, and restricts their ability to post pictures to social media.
Windows-Based Pc And Xbox One