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Walking the ‘Kids Screen Time Talk’

“The trick is to put yourself in charge of your screens instead of allowing your screens to be in charge of you”

– Dr. Edward Hallowell, M.D.

Welcome to our second break-out post on preparing your kids for screen time success.

If you missed the first, check out our blog: WHAT REALLY MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO KIDS SCREEN TIME.

Today we’ll be looking at how to handle the ‘screen time talk’ which – let’s face it – can feel pretty daunting!

This blog is an excerpt from our latest guide – Preparing your Kids for Screen Time Success!

So let’s begin.

Timing is Everything

When having the ‘kids screen time talk,’ timing can be the difference between acceptance and a full-blown temper tantrum.

You’ll want to approach the subject when everyone is relaxed and free of imminent time pressures…

…so before the school run, dinner, or 5 minutes before “The Flash” or “Friends” is not ideal.

If your kids are similar ages (less than three years apart), with comparable screen roles and routines, then you can discuss screen time as a family.

But if there is a large age gap (more than three years), your kids are at different stages in school, or their routines vary, discuss it with them individually.

TopTip: Good times for the ‘screen time talk’ include weekly family meetings, lazy Sunday afternoons and driving in the car. A bad time? Right after an argument.

Home and Away

No, not the Australian soap opera! We’re talking places to have ‘the talk.’

Home is the obvious answer, but it’s not the only one.

There are many benefits to having the ‘kids screen time talk’ at home.

It’s a convenient, comfortable and familiar environment for your kids.

And if you have kids of very different ages, it can be easier to manage.

But home is not the only place to consider!

Sometimes home can be a little too comfortable.

It can be all too easy for the kids to seek the safety of their bedrooms.

And with distractions at their fingertips, you start off already fighting for attention.

Having the discussion away from home can bring a fresh perspective – particularly as everyone has taken time out to be together.

TopTip: If you’re having ‘the talk’ away from home, be upfront with your kids. No one wants to go to the park only to find you’ve called a family meeting.

RELATED: Like what you're reading? Get your FREE Guide: How to Prepare Your Kids for a Screen Routine...that Works for YOUR Family!

Click here for your FREE Guide

American Academy of Paediatrics Recommendations
Age matters

As kids get older, their digital media habits change.

The older they get, the more digital media they consume…

…and with perspectives and guidance varying with age, it makes sense to adjust ‘the talk’ accordingly.

Thankfully there are some broad screen time guidelines out there to get you started.

You can see recommendations from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) opposite.

But if you read our first break-out post – WHAT REALLY MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO KIDS SCREEN TIME – you’ll know they are a great starting point…

…but are not the be-all-and-end-all.

With screen time, other factors like temperament, motivation, and family attitudes matter too.

TopTip: Don’t get overly hung up on rigid guidelines – use them as a starting point to find a screen routine that works best for your family.

Hey! What’s in it for me?

For all kids – and particularly tweens and teens – lay out the immediate benefits that a screen time routine can bring.

Immediate benefits for kids may include:

  • getting mum and dad off my back
  • the potential to EARN more screen time and other privileges
  • the independence to manage my own screen time – within limits
  • the chance to show my parents how responsible I can be
  • a way to stop distractions that I know I can’t control myself

And if you are setting an example and trying to cut back on your own screen time too, remind your kids that it’s not just them making the ‘sacrifice.’

Lazy Tablet Days
The Power of Questions

What’s the secret to a positive screen time talk?

Understanding your child – like everyone else in the world – wants to feel heard.

So use questions to lead the discussion.

Not only does this show empathy, but you might find insight into the right approach for your child.

Just be sure you are actively listening to what your kids say.

They may come up with a tweak or solution to your proposed screen time routine you never thought of (and if it is their idea, they are more likely to do it).

Whether it’s letting them manage their screen time…

…removing homework distractions…

…setting out their daily tasks…

…or getting their parents (yes, you) off their back…

…help your kids ‘share the win’.

Finally, be sure everyone leaves the conversation with a clear understanding of what to expect.

TopTip: You know that satisfied feeling of recognition you get when you’re in a meeting and your boss writes down what you said on the whiteboard? Well, kids feel the same in a family meeting. Pull out a big sheet of paper, let them ‘take the pen’ and brainstorm their ideas to adjust your screen time routine.

So that’s it! Go forth and talk screen time!

…questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from our Screen Time Prep Guide on having the screen time talk.

RELATED: Like what you're reading? Get your FREE Guide: How to Prepare Your Kids for a Screen Routine...that Works for YOUR Family!

Click here for your FREE Guide

Keep a look out for our next post in the series – Six Home Hacks to Less Screen Time – for practical tips to set up a home environment that works in your favour.

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