Limiting Screen Time


Many clients of mine who are parents complain of the ways mobile devices have negatively affected their lives.

A significant number of them claim that their children are on their devices “all of the time” and neglect face-to-face communication and other more-enriching activities. Some are concerned about what content their children are consuming and most do not have enough technological aptitude to know where to begin dealing with the problem.

My first response is to declare that this is not a problem that can be solved perfectly, but there are measures that can be taken and things that can be considered in order to increase the probability that mobile devices can be, to an increasing degree, assets rather than liabilities in the lives of our children and in our families as a whole.

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. A technological help is a free app called Our Pact. Most parents love it and most children hate it because it allows parental control on both Android and iOS devices to set device bedtimes, schedules, and block or give access to apps.
  2. In order to reduce the appearance of hypocrisy between parents and children, mothers or fathers can unplug their home wireless router during times when the whole family will have media blackout.
  3. Parents should consider whether and how much data children should have on their plan. Consider contacting your cell phone carrier to have caps on data for devices to teach users to budget and to reduce indiscriminate usage.
  4. Parents should also consider not allowing children possession of devices if they prove their inability to use them honorably.
  5. Parents should be introspective and self-controlled regarding their own device usage. A lack of management of one’s own behavior can send confusing nonverbal messages to children regarding whether media regulation should be a priority.
  6. Talk to children about highly and minimally valuable device usage. Use food analogies, such as healthful food and junk food, and teach them the importance or maximizing the former and minimizing the latter.
  7. Develop and have children sign a contract of mutual understand regarding which types of behaviors are acceptable and non-acceptable as a prerequisite to mobile device possession or usage.