Managing Screen Time

Managing children’s use of technology is one of the most common challenges for parents in today’s digitally connected world.

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.”

In Summary

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



Nintendo Switch


Windows-Based Pc And Xbox One

Better Self Psychology specialises in helping children, teenagers, and young adults.

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