The Mayo Clinic has linked too much or poor quality screen time to:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep scheduled and shorter duration of sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of social skills
  • Violence
  • Less time for play

But what are parents supposed to do when teachers are having kids use their phones in class and requiring in some cases that phones be used for homework?

The American Academy of Pediatrics had a special symposium in 2016, just to discuss the latest research on the impacts of screen time, social media, etc. The good news is that they have found that kids are doing what they would likely be doing offline while they are online (with notable exceptions) the difference is that it is at a much faster pace. They also found that just like parents before the digital age, it is important for parents to know who their kid’s friends are and to teach them how to interact with their world.

That means you have to get into their world.

That means monitoring the volume of their screen time, limiting their access to the Internet when they are not in the room with you, downloading the apps they have so that you are familiar with them and able to monitor their behavior and how it is used, consider using parental controls to block or filter Internet content. And know that there is no easy or one click answer to this, it will take an investment in your time and energy.

It is also important to note that your child WILL be exposed to something you didn’t want them exposed to on the Internet. Even with the best filters, it is not and if but a when. So that means, you will need to TALK to your kids about what to do when that happens. You will likely need to mention it repeatedly.

Practice what you preach

If you want your kid off their phone for dinner and family time, then be off of yours! If you want your kid to be kind and respectful on the internet then you must model that for them. If you want your child to be diserning about how and from where they disern accurate and usful information on the internet then show them how you do it.

The internet really is a lot like driving. You don’t had keys for a vehicle to a kid who has never been in a car or had a driving lesson. When a young person wants to drive then have been a passanger for a lot of hours, they are shown how to use the safety features and the rules of the road long before they are ever put behind the wheel. The Internet is at least as powerful as a car, let’s take the some safety procaustions.

The truth is that no one can really tell you exactly how much for you kid is too much.  You are their parent, so you know best.  Therein lies the problem... You must be engaged and aware of how it is impacting your kid and setting limits for them.  By setting those limits you are teaching them how to set limits for themselves in the future.

Question.  Do you currently set limits?  Do you know who your child interacts with most?  What apps do they use and why?  If you don’t already know, is it time to find out?

I will share with you that for a lot of reasons; I have just never really gotten into social media. For the most part, the appeal is lost on me. That said, it is becoming an ever increasingly normal and acceptable way to communicate and even though it is not my favorite thing, there are some benefits.

No matter what I think or feel about social media, it appears that it is here to stay. As our kids spend more and more time on their smart phones and tablets and as jobs move to become more and more reliant on the digital age, schools are moving to apps and websites for homework, tests, projects and assignments. Once upon a time, parents could restrict phone access as a way to discipline and now their kid can legitimately say they need it to finish their homework.

Insert parental eye roll here

If I had a nickel for each time I heard a parent or family say they are irritated or frustrated by how much time their kid spends on the internet, I could retire comfortably today.

Most parents of teens did not grow up with smart phones or social media and were accustomed to teachers taking a cell phone if it was seen during class time. That is a thing of the past now. Some teachers are even incorporating apps into the classroom by having their students pull out their phones and engage that way during class time.

Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP suggests that parents should be the teachers or trainers of the technology. She draws and analogy between parents teaching their kids to drive before handing them the keys to the car, why wouldn’t they want to teach their kids how to use the internet before allowing them independent access?

Where does this leave you?

So caregiver, that puts you back in the driver’s seat. That means you can no longer simply be frustrated with how it is but it is time for you to learn about what it is your kid is into and how they are using it.

Keep in mind that all kids are different and that each social group is unique. Some groups will have extensive G chats and prefer to communicate that way so that everyone is included in the conversation. Others will prefer apps like SnapChat to text and communicate but most use a combination. It is not enough to check to see who they are calling or texting it is important to know who they are communicating with and what apps they are using.

If you can’t beat ‘em....

At this point, it is really counter productive to fuss that them for being on their phone. It is way more productive to have activities that will force them to put their phones down and actually engage in activities. Merely complaining that they are on their phones too much will simply encourage the notion that you are out of touch.


How do you get your kids to put their phones down? I would love to hear from you!!

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