What You Absolutely Need to Know About Screen Time and Your Kids

too much screen time

We hear plenty of warnings about the perils of too much screen time for kids. But when we hear our seven-year-olds begging for their own iPads it can be easy to conclude that parents are fighting a losing battle. If you cringe each time your child ignores you because their eyes are glued to a screen or throws a fit when it’s time to put the device down, you are feeling the tension familiar to many parents. We recognize the convenience of technology even as we struggle to keep it from alienating us from those we love most. While there are no guidelines to guarantee a stress-free journey through the technology morass, it helps to start with a healthy perspective. The following can help us maintain hope and optimism as we impart healthy technology habits to our kids.

Stay Family Focused

Those of us who strive for healthy boundaries with screens can feel as though we are up against impossible odds.  The good news is you are not called to change the whole culture. Focus on your family. Focus on what works for your kids. My kids are approaching third grade and their individual screen time is limited to two hours a week, with the occasional family movie or afternoon program thrown in. My kids are old enough to know that most of their friends have more screen access than they do. They are also old enough to understand that we do not derive our family values from cultural norms. You know your family best—don’t be afraid to choose what matters and live according to it with confidence.

Resistance is to be Expected

Your kids are not going to love the limitations you set on technology. That’s all right. Our job as parents is to make the adult decisions that protect our kids from overuse or abuse of screens, keeping in mind that technology addiction is real and the consequences if we neglect our responsibility could be dire. Most kids will be drawn to screens, and the limits we set are rarely met with happy acquiescence, so as parents we must prepare for pushback. Be thoughtful about the guidelines you set and don’t be afraid to explain to your kids why you chose them. Then stick to them. Children learn by trial and error, testing whatever boundaries block their way. Accept this as a part of the process and you’ll be less likely to give in under pressure.

Every Generation of Parents Faces a Whole New World

It is easy to lament the difficulties of raising children in today’s technology-driven culture, but rest assured every generation of parents has its share of changes and challenges to address. Once upon a time parents feared girls wearing pants, rock and roll music, and their kids asking for a private phone line in their bedrooms; all are issues that seem quaint today. Parenting goes hand in hand with navigating new challenges. {Tweet This} Every generation has its own trials, and screen addiction is one of ours.

Readers, please take a minute to comment below and tell us what you do to keep technology from taking too much family time?


  • Aleksandra Zabrocki

    Screen time nowadays is a necessary evil. I find that if I set clear limits (all chores done, rooms clean, 1/2 hr total screen time per day during school year, 1 hr during summer) kids respond well and see it as a treat.

    • Cassandra Soars

      Yes–makes sense.

    • Carrington Cunnington

      Good point. Sometimes I think the most important things are being aware and involved. Seems many parents are taken by surprise by what or how much their kids do, or they feel helpless to institute any boundaries. You seem to have some clear parameters that work for your family.

  • Rachael O

    Great post! Something that I implemented last school year was a “no TV/Technology on school nights” policy for my 9 year old son. I realized that he was getting addicted to his screen time and when it was time to turn it off or put it way, his whole demeanor changed. He became very disrespectful in his behavior and with his words. He seemed to turn into a completely different person. One time I had to start praying because he seemed completely out of control…literally!!!….It was at that moment I realized I needed to do something, and fast!!!! Watching T.V. or playing with and I Pad is a privilege and I needed him to know that. He’s completely different now. I actually have the T.V. put away in the closet during the week (out of sight, out of mind)…it’s not a big screen lol….and when I do bring it out on Fri night and Sat it is limited (no TV/I Pad on Sundays….Family Day). Before I bring it out, I inform him that he is only allowed to watch for x amount of time. I do the same thing with his I Pad on the weekends. We set a timer and when it goes off, he knows to bring it to me so that I can put it away. If I have to come and get it from him, then he looses the privilege to get it back the next weekend. One time he brought it to me before the time went off!!!! I was blown away!!! It was like he was saying “I’m going to go above and beyond what you asked me to do” :o) This has worked like a charm but the key is CONSISTENCY and also giving him other fun things to do during the week. He’s 9 but loves when we do things together like playing board games or going outside and to the park. He loves the outdoors so I try to use that to my advantage :o) I don’t even think he misses his screen time during the week because I try to keep him occupied with other fun things. He seems to really appreciate the screen time he gets on the weekends. I hope this helps someone :o)

    • Cassandra Soars

      This is a great story that I think could help a lot of people! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    • Carrington Cunnington

      Thanks so much for sharing! I always love hearing a success story when it comes to getting a handle on technology. What a great reminder of how diligence and proactive practices can help turn around a discouraging situation.