Family Screen Time

Family Screen Time Culture

We live in a country that is “Screen Heavy” and it will likely continue to get heavier in our developing world.  Screen Time includes how much time is spent on: phones, tablets, computers, televisions, and playing video games. As a therapist to many teens and their families, I will let you in on two secrets: 

  1. Parents are frustrated with their teens’ excess screen use.
  2. Teens are frustrated with their parents’ excess screen use.  

Parents discuss with me their constant struggle to monitor screen time and often feel like it’s a fight not worth fighting due to the intensity of screen access in our world.  Many schools now assign tablets to every student for the school year. While this is a more effective and environmentally friendly way for students to complete work, it creates more opportunity for increased screen time.  Parents now need a way to get a hold of their teens for a multitude of reasons. Cell phones make that possible, and create a feeling of safety for many parents. More access to screens. And we haven’t even touched on video games!  

Teens share their frustration with how much parents are tied to their phones because of work, other family members/friends, social media, shopping, gambling/game playing.  This may come as a surprise to you parents, but teens rarely share this with you. Why? They very often fear that their screen time will be decreased if they raise concern about your screen time! 

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by creating boundaries for  ALL THE SCREENS at once, start small. Begin to shift the culture of screen time in your family. 

“Baby steps to the elevator….”  – What About Bob? 

What to Do?

As a household, do you have any designated “No Screen Time?”  Hold a family meeting, allowing all family members to participate and choose regular times that you will not use screens.  Maybe one night/day a week there is family fun time that includes interactive activities with No Screens Allowed.

  • No Screen Time Suggestions:  Meal times, car rides, set time of day (example: between the hours of 5pm-8pm).  
  • Activity Suggestions:  Picnic dinner in the park, family bike ride or hike, yard games, board games, craft night, bonfires, camping, indoor climbing walls, bowling, family book club, cooking a special meal/treat together, exercise classes.  

Have you tried No Screen Time in your family? How has it gone?

-Blog written by Alyssa Haggerty, MSW, LGSW