An increasing number of parents are concerned about the amount of “screen time” their children are getting. The term “screen time” applies to television, computers, tablets, phones, and any other electronic device. While regulating these devices can be difficult for most parents today, it can be even more difficult for divorced or separated parents trying to find consistency between two (2) homes. Often, the parent who limits screen time is seen as the “bad guy” while the parent who allows for unlimited screen time is the “fun parent”.
The best way to approach these issues and to establish consistent boundaries at both homes is for the parents to sit down and establish ground rules for devices. Below are some helpful starting points for this conversation:
- Time Limits. Parents should discuss time limit for screen time and how to enforce those time limits. This would be an established and consistent amount of time each day children can use devices, or perhaps you both agree that these time limits should be expanded on weekend days.
- Technology Free Time. Some parents find that it is easier to control when and where screen time is banned, rather than setting a strict time limit. This could mean that children cannot use devices in their bedrooms, or that devices cannot be used before school or during dinner time.
- Parental Controls. Many phones and tablets now have additional parental controls that allow a parent to turn off devices, or restrict the apps that can be used. If this will effectively reduce the amount of time your children spend in front of screens, it may be easiest to discuss and establish consistent parental controls in both homes.
- Rewards. Another option is to restrict screen time to a reward for completing homework, daily chores, or receiving a good grade at school.
There are many ways that parents in separate households can work together to ensure that they are consistently approaching screen time restrictions in both homes. However, not all parents are able to reach an agreement on these issues. Ultimately, whether or not to restrict screen time is a parenting decision. Even if the other parent does not feel device boundaries are necessary, and you feel strongly that this time needs to be controlled, you can use any combination of the above suggestions to make it easier for you and your children.