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50+ Tips to Limit Screen Time Without Conflict

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50+ Tips to Limit Screen Time Without Conflict

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There are many reasons to spend time on screens for learning and relaxation. But finding the balance and knowing when enough is enough can be a challenge and conflict between parents and students. It’s important to help students build healthy screen time habits, but for many parents and educators, that’s easier said than done.

We asked 51 experts to share their best tips that parents can use to reduce children's screen time. In this post, learn how you can: create a daily routine for your family, encourage your students to earn screen time, model positive behaviors, take a social media break, and more.

1. Give your student input in the screen time limitations process

Headshot of Sarah Miller
Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller, Founder, Homeschooling 4 Him

A great way to help reduce conflict around screen time limitations is to give students some input and control in the process. Parents who are planning to reduce the family's screen time can start with a family meeting to briefly explain the reasons for wanting to make a change. It will also help parents take responsibility for the problem and commit to reducing their own screen usage.

The next step is to decide as a family when screen time will occur. It is helpful to create some screen-free times in your family routine. You could also choose to create a short time window for screen time each day so your kids know when to expect it. It is important to give kids some age-appropriate input into when these times will be. Kids who have participated in the decision will be more likely to follow through with the plan.

Another helpful strategy is to give kids screen time coupons. Kids would get a certain number of coupons per day or per week that can be redeemed for a specific show or a certain number of minutes on the tablet, for example. They can redeem their coupons whenever they would like, but after the coupons are gone, the screens are off. This strategy gives kids even more control over their screen time, teaches them about priorities and delayed gratification, and helps to reduce arguments when the coupons are gone.

No matter what strategy a family chooses, it is important to be consistent. Kids are more likely to ask for more screen time when they are used to having a lot of screen time. As they begin to turn off the screens and find other ways to spend their time, the resistance will decrease.

2. Challenge your student to take a one-week vacation/detox from social media

Headshot of Josh Ochs
Josh Ochs

Josh Ochs, Founder of SmartSocial
Teach students that social media can (and should) be utilized as a tool for good, but that it is important to take breaks from time to time. Challenge your student to consider deleting their Instagram and/or Snapchat apps from their phone for one week and take a social media detox/vacation. Before embarking on their "low tech vacation," students can announce to their friends that they are focusing on school and can be reached by text directly. Then, help your student delete their Snapchat, Instagram, and any other time-consuming apps from their phone for one week.

If your student doesn’t want to delete their apps, consider having them unfollow 20-30 people on Snapchat and/or Instagram. This will free them up to only follow people they are close with, and can even reduce social media anxiety.

We always recommend trying apps with your students. Helping students learn digital literacy starts at home with household rules for media use. Instead of setting screen time restrictions or limiting screen time, consider how much screen time is solo media use.

3. Adopt a lifestyle around screen time guidelines

Headshot of Michael Garbade
Michael Garbade

Michael Garbade, Founder, Education Ecosystem

Reducing screen time and setting guidelines doesn’t just merely revolve around screen time; it’s a complete lifestyle that needs to be adopted by both the student and family. One thing that needs to be understood is that this will not happen in days; it takes weeks to get aligned with a specific routine. The best strategy is to start to reduce screen time slowly and continue limiting the time until you reach your family's goal.

Secondly, plan your child’s day and don’t let them be bored, which will lead them to be irritated and eventually ask for more screen time. Get some arts and crafts activities sorted out or go outside; this will keep the child invested and burn off the energy in a better way. On other days, do some cooking challenges together or let them decorate cupcakes. The whole idea is to help them find fun in other activities and develop new hobbies to decrease the desire to play video games or watch tv. On weekends let them enjoy cheat days and let them stay up late while you watch a movie together or play video games as a family.

4. Connect with your teen, eat together technology-free, and shut down phones before bed

Headshot of Cindy Muchnick
Cindy Muchnick

Cindy Muchnick, Author, Parent Compass

If screen time becomes so out of control that teens and tweens experience headaches, erratic sleep patterns, or cannot disengage from their tech, here are some suggestions:

1) Model good tech behavior as an adult. Put down your tech and connect with your teen.

2) In our book, The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen's Wellness and Academic Journey in Today's Competitive World, we resolutely recommend helping your older children shut down all devices for a full hour before they go to bed. Collecting cell phones, iPads, and laptops are a necessary nightly habit. Store them in a common area like a kitchen or house entry area. Studies do show that sleep patterns are negatively impacted by the use of tech too close to bedtime.

3) Eat family meals together, tech-free. Choose at least one evening per week, or as many as you humanly can, to sit down together as a family for a meal.  Research says that five to seven meals a week together is optimal. It allows for loose, unstructured conversation and laughter. Play a question game at dinner or a family icebreaker to take the focus away from the discussion surrounding school work and grades.

5. Give your student choices and set the screen time

Headshot of Elizabeth Hicks
Elizabeth Hicks

Elizabeth Hicks, Co-Founder, Parenting Nerd

Don't enforce, explain kindly

Children understand your idea better when you explain the point and not enforce it. Plan beforehand how you want to limit the screen time, but be flexible and talk to your child. Reinforcing behavior with a little gift or happy act will encourage the child to listen to you more. Give your child a time with a few options and ask him/her to choose one. This way he/she will be satisfied too.

Sometimes deviating from the schedule is alright

Ensure your child follows a set routine every day but let them deviate on weekends. A good weekday practice is to set a maximum of 2-3 hours of screen time every day for children and no exposure to devices one hour before bedtime. Let your child watch a movie or play video games on weekends and have some popcorn as a treat. Following this practice motivates the child to follow the routine, look forward to the weekend, and encourages them to stick to the guidelines.

6. Establish technology-free zones and other boundaries

Headshot of Brandon Walsh
Brandon Walsh

Brandon Walsh, CEO, Dads Agree

One of the best ways to set effective and conflict-free screen time guidelines for children is to establish technology-free zones.

For example, you can establish that during breakfast/lunch/dinner time, everyone has to put their phones aside. Each mobile device can be collected in a basket and put in a separate room. This way screen time will not only be reduced, but you’ll also get to spend quality time with your family without any distractions.

Another example can be of establishing the rule that after 8:00 PM, there will be no cellphones used around the lounge area, and everyone needs to be there. This is another great way of spending quality time with family and also setting a conflict-free screen time limitation.

It is always best to present some kind of justification behind whatever decision you make and impose on others, otherwise, it seems suffocating to the other party. The aim should be to convince your family to become part of the plan and understand the intention behind it, rather than to seem to intrude.

7. Develop offline family time activities

Headshot of Melanie Musson
Melanie Musson

Melanie Musson, USInsuranceAgents.com

Letting your children be involved in setting limits allows them to feel like they have some control over their restrictions.

If your child has been used to a lot of screen time, a sudden restriction will be onerous for all parties. Parents can’t just take something away without offering an alternative. Ask your child what new activity they’d like to participate in.

Maybe they’ll show interest in soccer, or possibly an art class, dance, or music. Their new activity will take the place of some of their excessive screen time, but it won’t feel like a punishment.

Spending time together as a family is another way to limit screen time but replace it with something else. Have your child cook dinner with you. They can plan the meal, read the recipe, and learn valuable life skills in addition to spending less time online.

Game nights with friends and family are another beautiful way to occupy your children away from screens. In-person games force children to improve interpersonal communication and work through winning and losing graciously.

Researching and implementing ways to be more sustainable as a family is another productive way to spend time without relying on screens. Your whole family can feel good about your unified accomplishments.

8. Establish boundaries, make a routine, and role model the habits you want them to form

Headshot of Robin Brown
Robin Brown

Robin Brown, CEO, Vivipins

Parenting can be quite a task, especially with screens around. After all, we have all been through endless fights with our children on limiting their screen time, only for their “five more minutes” to turn into hours, resulting in unwanted yelling and tantrums. However, knowing the risks of too much screen time, it is imperative that as parents, we ensure sound ways of reducing our children’s screen time without conflict.

If you’re a parent in need, here are some tips on establishing screen time boundaries without coming off as the “bad guy” in front of your children:

Set clear rules and boundaries

First of all, it’s important to know that children are not mature enough to be left unmonitored with their electronics, which is why it is imperative that as a parent, you establish clear rules and boundaries on day one. Tell them how unsafe too much screen time can be, so that they acknowledge the problems that can arise from it. Moreover, try marking screen time as a privilege, allowing your children extra screen time only on special occasions and achievements. Don’t forget to let them know that this privilege can be taken away just as quickly as it can be given.

Creating a fun routine

If your children have a set routine that isn’t monotonous, they are more likely to ditch the screens for some wholesome enjoyment. Help them balance their day by including fun activities, such as physical sports, family time, and new hobbies.

Role model healthy habits

If you’re practicing what you’re preaching, your children are going to copy you. No matter how tempting it is to grab your phone to scroll through social media, try your best not to, especially around your children. Instead, exhibit healthy habits and hobbies, so that they pick them up instead of their phones and tablets.

Set a screen limitation timer

The majority of new technology comes with built-in screen timers and parental controls. Make the most out of those by setting a screen limitation timer. This way your child is less likely to blame you for ending their favorite game.

9. Build a daily routine for your family

Headshot of Elizabeth Malson
Elizabeth Malson

Elizabeth Malson, US Nanny Institute

Parents have a lot to manage and it's easy for kids to spend several hours of screen time a day. Depending on the age of the child, it may be challenging to switch from screens to other activities, but never underestimate the power of a bored child. Without a screen, children usually find something to do, especially if they have a bin of toys, a set of Legos, books, bikes, and other age-appropriate activities. However, it may take a few weeks for the child to realize they need to find something else to occupy their time.

Reducing screen time can help children develop life skills, like how to self-regulate their use of media and have more time to advance academically. To develop personal responsibility, accountability, and the importance of helping family members, introduce older children to household management chores and teach them cooking, how to fold laundry, and cleaning.

For younger children, have them work on puzzles, build Lego sets using an instruction book, read out loud, complete supplemental workbook pages in an education binder, spell words, make up a song, or turn on music and dance. When dinner, dishes, and other chores are finished, go on a neighborhood walk or bike ride. During this time, talk about space, the stars, the forest, or stop to look at bugs and collect rocks. Following these steps can help build learning into your daily routine.

10. Kids should earn time on the internet instead of it just being given to them

Headshot of Brittany Jean-Louis, LPC
Brittany Jean-Louis, LPC

Brittany Jean-Louis, LPC, A Freeman's Place Counseling

Screen time can be earned through a behavior modification system in which kids are required to do something (finish chores, have good behavior at school, complete homework, etc.) to earn something (sleeping over at a friend’s house, playing video games, getting on the internet, etc.).

The behavior modification can be a chart created by parents and kids together and can vary based on the child's age. The chart can include at least 3 target behaviors (complete wake-up routine, attend school with no behavioral issues, come home and complete a chore, etc.). When those target behaviors are met, the student can earn screen time. Creating the target behaviors, and even the amount of screen time that can be earned should be discussed as a family.

When students feel a part of this process it increases their self-esteem and cooperation. Parents should also use strength-based language in discussing limits. For instance, instead of saying “too much screen time is bad” a parent can say something that resembles the following statement:

We know how important it is for a kid your age to have access to the internet, but we want to ensure that you are well-rounded as a person. Therefore, we want to see you doing homework first and foremost, participating in extracurricular activities, and then having screen time.

11. Schedule social media blackout days to limit screen time

Headshot of Justin Lavelle
Justin Lavelle

Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified

Not setting limits on technology usage is a big mistake. Many parents believe if kids are participating in age-appropriate technology and high-quality programming, everything is fine. Studies show that some kids may have a propensity to tech addiction. Kids who partake in too much tech time tend to be anxious, have a hard time making and keeping friends, and can develop low self-esteem. It is essential to set hours and schedule blackout days to keep kids involved in real-life activities and relationships away from technology.

To help limit screen time, consider downloading an app that limits their online usage. It will disable their device when their time is up. You can also block websites you don’t want to be made available to your kids. Parents should own the passwords for each device and change them regularly, even daily if feasible. Only give your kids the password once chores and homework are complete. It’s also important that parents model the behavior they are expecting from their kids. If kids see their parents on their phones or iPads all the time, they will expect to do the same.

12. Instill healthy screen time habits by modeling positive behaviors

Headshot of Colleen Sims
Colleen Sims

Colleen Sims, Family SkillBuilders

Because of the nature of technology today and its integral role in a child's life, it's no longer sustainable to create arbitrary time limits for screen use. It's more important to instill healthy habits for screen time.

One way to do this is by having a list of activities a child must do before engaging in screen time (complete household chores, complete self-care tasks, do something active, do something creative, go outside, read something, do something social, etc). These are parts of life that need to be protected in the age of technology and they will naturally decrease the amount of time available for children to use screens.

It's also important to promote (and model) pro-social limits, such as no screens at the dinner table, everyone puts their phones away during family time, etc. Then, we want to create limits around screens to protect the brain, like no screens an hour before bed, no screens for the first hour after waking, a limit to how long screens are used without a break, etc.

Next, we want to monitor the content that is consumed on screens and set limits around that. Finally, it's important to model healthy screen habits through our own behavior as parents. How often do your children see you using screens? Does it match what you expect from them?

13. Encourage children to research new apps they are interested in

Headshot of Dr. Tracy Bennett
Dr. Tracy Bennett

Dr. Tracy Bennett, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of GetKidsInternetSafe

The most important thing about screen management for healthy kids is maintaining a healthy connection with your child – which can be difficult with everything that we have going on in our lives. In addition, it’s not just our non-virtual images that we need to manage, but we should also be concerned about our virtual images. We need to manage our own online identities and help our kids to manage their online identities.

When kids make mistakes go over the pros and cons with them

What can we do? We can protect our kids from negative situations with basic tech limits and keeping our relationships open, connected, and healthy. Share the WHY with your kids and encourage active participation. You can’t make every decision for them or tell them what to do, but you can show them what could happen and what is out there. When kids make mistakes, and they will, go over the pros and cons with them. Lay out the options, discuss them, and let them choose what option to take. Empower them to make their own choices and to learn from their mistakes.

Encourage your children to research new apps they are interested in

Make your kids do the research and create a powerpoint or a speech to win you over when they want a new app or a new program on their devices. This lets your kids do the research and learn about the pros and cons themselves as well as empowers them.

You don’t need to tell your kids what apps you are using and monitoring, because they may find genius workarounds that allow them to get away with more things. Instead, let your kids know that anything that they text, anything they post, any picture they take, you may have access to and you may review. If they know someone else is watching, they may pause and problem solve before they go through with their texts and posts.

14. If your child is addicted to screens, recommend replacement activities

Jared Heathman, MD headshot
Jared Heathman, MD
Jared Heathman, MD, Your Family Psycharist

Some of the first warning signs that your child is addicted to screens include a loss of creativity for activities without technology which reflects dependence, staying on their gadgets long after their allotted time, and withdrawing from other activities that were once pleasurable. In order to reach out to them, gently confront the noticeable increased usage of technology. Discuss your concern over the lost enjoyment of activities outside electronic usage and recommend replacement activities.

Have the child come up with social activities to replace the reliance on gadgets to increase social skills and communication with others. Games with competitive goals can also increase motivation and assertiveness. Slowly decrease the time of electronic use to make the withdrawal less noticeable. Make a chart to show your child how much they’ve decreased their time on electronics and positively reinforce them for each step towards progress.

15. Regularly monitor your children online and use what you find to start a dialogue

Headshot of Josh Ochs
Josh Ochs
Josh Ochs, Founder, SmartSocial.com

Parents should be diligent about monitoring their children’s online activities. Being actively involved in your child’s digital life will make it easier to spot any red flags that may arise and start a dialogue. Regularly discuss your children’s online activities; focus on being supportive, listening, and maintaining a calm attitude. Consider your child’s mood and the environment before diving into these discussions. For example, you wouldn’t want to start this discussion when you’re driving your children and their friends to school.

When parents use the same apps as their kids, children are more likely to behave in a positive way (it also provides parents with a window in which they can monitor their children for any technology addiction red flags). If you’re not sure how a certain app or social network works, visit our Parent App Guide page to learn how your children could be hiding their activity from you.

16. Establish screen-free zones at home

Titania Jordan headshot
Titania Jordan
Titania Jordan, Bark

Let your actions speak louder than your words. Lead by example as a parent and make face-to-face interaction more important than being on your smartphone. Explain how biomechanics affect your brain and your body. Having an open and honest conversation with your kids about how these devices can affect them physically and mentally may help them self-regulate their screen time.

Set limits on screen time. This is the most obvious step but perhaps the most difficult to enforce if your child is addicted to screens. Parents can't just give their child a device and think they will turn it off when it's reasonable.

Take away the chargers. Use screen-time management apps such as Circle or Unglue.

Have screen-free zones in your house. Don't let your kids take their devices into their bedroom. Limit it to common areas. Indulge in the real world. Embrace in activities as a family such as art, music, sports and cooking. Get outside, put your feet in the grass and experience the world.

17. Get to the root of your child's screen time addiction

Holly Zink headshot
Holly Zink
Holly Zink, Digital Addicts

Below are some signs that your child may be struggling with being addicted to screens:

1. They’re being possessive of their devices When a child is possessive of their technological devices, they won’t let them out of their sight or let anyone else use them. Children who aren't addicted usually don’t care if their parent uses their device every once in a while.

2. They throw a fit when they can’t be on their devices As part of being a parent, you may have to take your child’s devices away as a form of punishment, or because it’s not the time to be using them. If your child reacts to this action by throwing a hissy fit, they are definitely addicted to using their devices. A child who isn’t addicted to using them could live without them, at least for a little while.

3. They use their devices, even at family gatherings A child who’s attached to using their devices will use them anywhere, including during family gatherings. This could be during holidays, game night, birthday celebrations, and at the dinner table. If they are constantly using their devices, even when it’s family time, they have a technology addiction. Below are some tips for helping students who show signs of technology addiction:

  • Use a parental control app to set device-use time restrictions The best way to wean a child off of using their devices all of the time is by using a parental control app with a time restriction option. With this, you can restrict the number of hours your child can spend on each of their devices daily. As time passes, gradually decrease the time-length and see how they do
  • Help them discover other activities they like Unlike what many children believe, life doesn’t revolve around technology. Help them discover other activities they might like that don’t involve it. Some activities could include joining a local travel sports team, painting, reading, and more
  • Ask them why they use their devices so often Part of addressing a child’s technology addiction is by getting to the root of it. Ask them, “why do you use your devices all the time?” See what they say. Maybe a response they provide is something you can address. For example, they could say they use it because they have no one to spend time with them. If this is the case, maybe encourage them to hang out with friends, or make time yourself, as their parent, to do so

18. Limit the screen time needed for school work by visiting the library frequently

Lucy Harris headshot
Lucy Harris

Lucy Harris, Hello Baby Bump

I limit my children to 1 hour of leisure screen time and I use a timer to ensure limits are enforced. When it comes to school work, I understand that they may need technology but I will try to limit that as much as possible by going to the library, so they can get what they need from books.

Ensuring there are activities or hobbies your kids can enjoy also reduces their screen time because they will be more likely to go outside and play (instead of sitting in front of a screen because they’re bored).

Phones, laptops, tablets, etc are all charged at a charging station which is in our study. This prevents use and temptation of use while our kids are in bed, late at night, when boredom hits, etc.

19. Integrate screen time naturally without it becoming a dependency

James Easley headshot
James Easley

James Easley, Epic Adventures

First things first, technology is not the enemy. Technology plays an important part in our lives and will play an integral role in our children's futures. We need to see technology for what it is – a tool to use. And one that is most useful when balanced and integrated naturally, without it becoming a dependency.

So, how do we avoid excessive screen time?

First, we have to ask ourselves why children turn to it so readily and why it becomes so quickly addictive. Yes they're looking for 'entertainment', but fundamentally they're looking for challenges and stimulation. Their growing minds are curious and open to the world. They crave adventure, exploration, and play. And if we don’t provide an analog outlet for it, digital becomes the easier surrogate option.

To develop a healthy relationship with technology, we need to look at these aspects:

Positive digital usage There are many tools, services, and platforms that use digital in a manner that is productive for young minds. Time spent with tools that help children grow intellectually, creatively, or compassionately should not be restricted, unless it starts to become imbalanced. Also, don’t forget that digital and real-world activities don’t have to be separate. For example, you can use a digital encyclopedia to recognize fossils while exploring on the beach.

Digital offset However, if your child’s screen usage feels like it’s gotten out of hand (for whatever reason), make sure they offset it with some real-world activities. Spend time together as a family, indoors or outdoors, meet with friends, go for walks, plan a family camping trip, play games that don’t require screens (like board games or cards).

The key is being mindful of the time spent looking at screens and how you’ve spent it.

20. Screen time limits depend on your child’s age

Janice Robinson-Celeste headshot
Janice Robinson-Celeste

Janice Robinson-Celeste, Successful Black Parenting Magazine

Screen time has received a bad rap because parents too often use screens as a babysitter, which is not recommended. Screen time for babies under the age of one should be avoided. As they grow to be a toddler, parents should limit screen time to educational concepts for children.

As an early childhood specialist, I have seen children learn concepts like colors, numbers (counting to 10), and even spelling short words because they have learned it while watching educational videos. Parents should reinforce learning with books and toys. Again, at no time should screen time be a babysitter but should be a time where the parents are interacting with their children via the screen to help them understand what they are seeing.

At no time should children be left to their own accord with a screen. Even with the unfounded Momo Internet scare, parents who are not watching can not control what video plays next automatically. They should be present.

YouTube is the biggest video search engine in the world. YouTube Kids is somewhat safer for younger children to use and it is available through an app for iOS and Android. I highly recommend using that instead. However, there is no safety substitute for an involved parent.

Never have a computer or screen in another room, like a child's bedroom, where it cannot be monitored. Keep the desktop computer in a central shared space where a parent can easily view what the child is watching. Older teens often have smartphones and it is difficult to monitor what they are watching. Parents can easily look at their browsing history to see what they've watched online on YouTube or on Google. Be sure to check.

21. Create a structure for your child’s screen time

Lindsay Walker headshot
Lindsay Walker

Lindsay Walker, Launch Code After School

Structure technology time, set reasonable limits and share what the purpose of screen time is with your kids. Emphasize educational tools. Share with your kids apps and games that have learning and child development in mind.

Teach skills that help your children analyze information sources. Educate kids to be informed readers and how to tell if sources are reliable or not. Lastly, encourage your kids to learn real engineering and to develop programming skills.

22. When screen time is well regulated, it can be a tool

Eileen Choo

Eileen Choo, Practicle

Some parents avoid screen time like the plague, but screen time, if controlled well, is not all bad! More often than not, it is because we are letting our kids use their screen time on the wrong things. But it is actually easy to make use of screen time to good effect, if we just follow these simple tips!

Encourage your kids to earn their rights to screen time. Teach them that if they want something, they need to put in effort to earn it. For example, they will need to do an hour of homework before they can get an hour of screen time. You know your child best, so set reasonable limits.

Let your kids use technology to improve their lives. Instead of Facebook, install Quora. Instead of Tik Tok, let them watch riddle videos on YouTube. Teach them how to use apps as tools that can help them take notes or even create their own blog. Together, learn how to use their phones to take photos of their achievements or adventures.

Any content that gives them value is good time spent on a screen. If your kids love animals, how about beautifully filmed documentaries? If your kids love animations, why not watch some non-computer animated movies which often teach good life values? Even if your kids just love watching TV shows, you can let them watch foreign films and expose them to different cultures from a young age. For every bad piece of content, there’s a good one!

23. Address your screen time management before condemning theirs

Alex Magnin, CEO & Founder of Alex Magnin

Alex Magnin
Alex Magnin

In a family situation, when trying to manage screen time intake, it is really important that parents address their own behaviors as well. Asking why certain things are ok for you and not for them is likely the first response you will get back. Try introducing something simple to start, such as leaving all of your phones on the kitchen table overnight, meaning no phone scrolling for anyone before bed or when they first wake up.

Many mental health professionals believe this is a healthier way to start the day anyway so there are multiple benefits, but make sure that you are also partaking in the exercise so it feels like something normal that the entire family will be doing. Start showing your student that they don’t have to constantly check what is happening on their screen, which will hopefully mean they generally start checking less when they do have the device.

24. Get your students into the habit of self regulating their own screen time

Josh Ochs, Founder SmartSocial.com

Josh Ochs headshot
Josh Ochs

Some signs that parents need to monitor for are:

  • Increasing priority given to screens to the extent that screen time activities take precedence over other life interests and daily activities
  • Continuation or escalation of screen time despite the occurrence of negative consequences

How to develop positive screen time habits:

  • Remind yourself that having a cell phone, tablet, or computer is something to use in moderation
  • Find offline activities that you would be proud to share on your college resume. Spending time on those activities will give you positive content you can post online
  • Prioritize positive offline hobbies, school, social activities, sports, and family time above screen time
  • Get in the habit of following your screen time guidelines and self-regulating your screen time
  • Find activities you can do digitally while still being productive, like:
  • Learning how to program
  • Building an online resume
  • Monitoring your digital footprint

25. Create a checklist that has to be completed before screen time

Alice Anderson

Alice Anderson, Founder, Mommy to Mom & How She Golfs

I came across something on Facebook once that showed a list of chores a student needed to do before their mom would give them the wifi password as a screen time management technique. Since my 13-year-old daughter was spending too much time on her computer, I decided to try my own version. She has to make her bed, get dressed for school, eat breakfast, and complete her reading for the day before she is allowed to go online. Usually, she doesn’t make it through everything before it’s time for school so there ends up being no screen time in the morning.

When she finishes school, the rule is no internet before dinner or until after homework is completed. This has really worked out well for us because it minimizes arguments since she knows what to expect. It also helps with the stress of things getting done last minute or forgotten about because she has to do her work first, before she can have free time.

I’ve noticed a positive change in her attitude and she actually admitted that she likes how our days are structured now because it helps her get things done.

26. Learn the triggers that make you consume social media

Matt Weidle, Business Development Manager, Buyer’s Guide

Raising your self-awareness of addictive usage habits can aid in the management of your digital consumption. You can achieve this by identifying applications that we use frequently and recognizing the triggers that cause us to consume excessively.

Reflecting on emotional and cognitive processing can also help you gain self-awareness. This entails identifying the emotions and psychological requirements that underpin excessive internet usage.

A problematic idea that leads to greater screen time is, ‘If I don’t respond to a group conversation right away, I’ll lose my popularity.’ Reflecting on the reality of such thoughts can help people break free from their digital addictions.

27. Create a hybrid solution of technology mixed with an offline activity

Miklos Zoltan, CEO & Cybersecurity Researcher, Privacy Affairs

Miklos Zoltan headshot
Miklos Zoltan

Recognize your personal triggers. Self-awareness of addictive usage patterns can actually assist us in identifying unmet requirements that lead to digital overuse. We can prepare the way for alternate behaviors and interests to satisfy those needs in new ways if we do this.

For example, mindfulness meditation could be an alternative to easing tension, anxieties, or worry that leads to technology overuse. If you think your digital overuse is due to boredom, physical activity, cooking, or taking up offline activities can all provide alternatives to screen time.

Again, technology can assist with this, such as allowing you to create online groups for simultaneous exercise, resulting in a hybrid solution to bad digital habits.

28. Include exercise into all your routines

Chana Charach, Chief Financial Officer, Income.ca

Chana Chrach headshot
Chana Charach

Physical activity maintains adolescent bodies and minds in good shape. Every day, your child should engage in at least one hour of moderate to strenuous physical activity. This could include activities such as walking or riding a bike to school, sports such as netball and football, or organized fitness activities such as exercise classes, swimming, and jogging.

Physical activity does not just happen for many young people; they must arrange a balance between it and other activities, including screen time management.

29. Have your student participate in extracurricular activities that don’t involve technology

Dusan Stanar, Founder & CEO, VSS Monitoring

Dusan Stanar headshot
Dusan Stanar

Extracurricular activities, interests, and hobbies are beneficial for your student because they provide opportunities for him or her to meet new people and learn new skills while having fun. As a result, they are an excellent approach to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Extracurricular activities can include whatever your student is interested in doing outside of schools, such as sports, drama, Scouts and Guides, or hobbies such as crafting or photography, among other things. They can also be activities that you have encouraged your student to participate in, such as language classes, music, debate, religious education, swimming, community activities, or both paid and unpaid jobs.

30. Turn off unnecessary notifications

Michael Robinson, Security Expert, Cheap SSL

Michael Robinson headshot
Michael Robinson

All notifications should be turned off. Do-Not-Disturb (DND) mode is available on both Android and iOS devices, and it may be used to turn off all notifications on your phone. This DND setting will prevent you from using your phone and finding balance with your screen time management.

All you have to do is enable DND, and all notifications will be silenced as a result. You’ll be able to read all of your alerts the next time you use your device. Make sure you’re doing something else to keep yourself occupied so you don’t feel compelled to use your phone.

31. Stop taking your phone to bed

Jeroen van Gils, Managing Director at Lif

Jeroen van Gils headshot
Jeroen van Gils

The biggest no-no in the digital world is taking your electronics to bed. Before going to bed, most of us are accustomed to utilizing our phones, laptops, and tablets. This has a significant negative impact on our health.

The artificial light released from our phone or laptop screen, particularly blue light, is exceedingly damaging to our sleep quality. Sleep deprivation is linked to a slew of health problems. So, if you have a habit of scrolling through your Instagram feed before bed, it’s time to switch to a book and develop the habit of reading before bed.

32. Use parental controls

Christian Velitchkov, Co-Founder, Twiz IO

Christian Velitchkov headshot
Christian Velitchkov

Tweens and teens nowadays have their entire life on a screen. Be it laptop, phone, or television, they are always exposed to a screen. Screen time management is therefore now a huge demand.

Every phone has built in parental controls that you can use to limit your student’s app usage based on time. Set the limit to whatever you see fit. For example, allow the phone to use Instagram for only two hours every day. Once your student uses the app for two hours, it will automatically lock itself and not open until the next day. Once all their apps are locked for the day, they won’t have much to do on it.

33. Create digital boundaries

Alejandra Marqués, Your Plan A

Alejandra Marques headshot
Alejandra Marques

Phones, laptops, and other screens are taking away our time, and most importantly, they are taking away reality. This is why we should all have digital boundaries and manage our time more healthily.

Here are three tips for better screen time management:

  • Track your screen time use. Most of the time people are not even aware of how much time they’re spending on their phones. If you ask them, they will say: “Oh, probably I’m about 3 hours per day on my phone,” but then they look at the settings and realize that they were spending about 10 hours per day on their phones. This is a great awareness awakening tool. All you need to do is go to settings on your phone and search for your screen time report
  • Set limits. A great feature on phones is that you can establish time limits for each app you’re using. Set realistic, yet desirable limits and be honest with yourself once your time is over
  • Create a new habit. Applying the previous tips will allow you to have more free time, trust me, most people can gain back three hours per day just by following this. Now that you have all this extra time, you need to create new habits, develop a hobby, start a project, or take time to interact in real life with your family and friends. The possibilities now are limitless

34. Take addiction signs seriously

Harriet Chan, Co-Founder, Coco Finder

Harriet Chan

Being sneaky about electronic device usage is one of the screen time addiction warning signs to look out for in tweens and teens. If you have ever caught your students hiding to use their phones or laptops after lights out or when they should be doing chores or homework, that’s an indication they need screen time management. You can handle such a situation by being a good example and cutting down your screen time and holding off on introducing screens.

Along with self-monitoring and open discussions with your teen about screen time use and alternate activities, you can use monitoring applications to watch over your teenager. These apps allow parents to view all the smartphone activities, know how much time they spend online, websites they visit, and even block access to some, but cannot replace building a relationship with the students to help them learn and practice good behaviors.

35. Make screen time active to enhance hobbies

Caroline Allams, CCO, Natterhub

Caroline Allams
Caroline Allams

The most important thing to consider is whether students are getting ‘active’ or ‘passive’ screen time.

Playing interactive games (particularly educational ones, but even something creative like Minecraft), using videos like Joe Wicks’ online P.E. sessions, or reading books on an e-reader are all examples of ‘active’ screen time. Scrolling mindlessly through Facebook or Twitter, or watching gamers on YouTube or Twitch, are examples of ‘passive’ screen time which should be kept to a sensible minimum – a couple of hours a day at most. They’re not bad in small doses, especially if your student finds them entertaining or relaxing, but balance is key.

So what can parents do at home to make sure students don’t waste their time in front of a screen? The most effective thing you can do is lead by example: try to establish a set screen-free time during the day where your students are encouraged to do other activities, and make sure that you put your devices to bed in order to promote better sleep patterns.

Check the parental settings on your devices if you want to establish a hard limit on how long your student can use them. You could try giving your students the opportunity to ‘earn’ more screen time – say by doing chores around the house – but it’s important to make sure that students learn to self-regulate. They need to ask themselves, “Am I getting the most out of this time?”

It’s also important to get your students interested in other activities that don’t involve screens. Exercise is essential! If you’re lucky enough to have a back garden, or you live close to a public park, take a walk and get some fresh air. If you don’t have an outdoor space, try doing dance routines, yoga, or simple stretches to keep fit. Meditate to relax your body as well as your mind. Read a new book, try cooking or baking, or take up a new hobby like crochet or calligraphy!

You can even use your devices to enhance some of these hobbies. If your student is proud of the story they’ve written or the model they’ve built, encourage them to take a picture or a video and share it online with their friends! Find exercise routines and recipes online, or use apps like FaceTime and Zoom to keep in touch with family members.

Whatever you do, always remember that important word: balance.

36. Fill the empty spaces

Estelle Nkolo, Blogger, Single Parenting in Style

Estelle Nkolo
Estelle Nkolo

Screen time is a big concern as a parent. We have so much to do that sometimes we are just tempted to give a screen to our tween to entertain them when we can’t. But some researchers have highlighted that tweens with too much screen time may perform worse at school and that too much screen time may alter the development of their brains.

Warning signs that your student may be addicted to screens:

  • Don’t have any idea of what to do if you shut down the screens
  • Are angry and even aggressive if you take their screens from them
  • Can spend an entire day playing their video games or watching TV without interruption, except a quick break for toilets
  • Are never hungry when they are on their screen, they are so focused that they do not feel hunger
  • Can’t stop right away if you ask them to, they will argue and try to get more time on their screens
  • Will find creative ways to have access to their screens (wake up when everyone is sleeping, hide their tablets where the parent will not find them to keep them from them)

Strategies to address this issue and manage screen time adequately are based on a simple principle: fill the empty spaces.

Our students are interested in their screens because they don’t have other areas of interest. When we were young, we did not have smartphones but we were happy playing and we didn’t feel empty… so what parents need to do is create alternatives.

Limit accessibility to the screens

  • Limit screen time to the minimum so that they have more time to do other activities
  • Keep their screens with you when they are not allowed to have them

Fill the void

  • Play with your kids. Play social games, talk, swim, do activities that don’t involve a screen
  • Involve them in your day-to-day activities at home such as cooking

Develop their interests in other activities

  • Find what they like apart from screens. My son, for example, likes to read so I will always have a subscription to the library and keep him busy reading
  • Develop other interests – like piano, paint, dance, anything that they will be absorbed by them

37. Help students find face-to-face social opportunities

GinaMarie Guarino, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

GinaMarie Guarino headshot
GinaMarie Guarino

Screen addiction is a condition that is rising among tweens and teens in the United States and around the world. With the growth and development of technology, students of all ages are becoming addicted to screens and the internet.

Nowadays, it is perfectly normal to do at least half of your socializing on a phone, computer, or TV screen. Teens engage with people, games, and social media constantly throughout the day, and are exposed to advertisements that encourage more and more screen time. Parents should be aware of the warning signs that their students are suffering from screen addiction.

If your teen does not socialize or have an interest in face-to-face interaction with friends and siblings and insists on constantly being on their phone or computer, they are at risk of suffering from screen addiction.

One of the best ways to prevent a teen from developing a screen addiction is to minimize their access to screens. Taking away or limiting interaction with any sort of screen from the beginning will prevent your teen from becoming dependent or reliant on screen time. If you are beginning to see the warning signs, take immediate steps to reduce their exposure to screens, and redirect their attention to productive after-school and social activities.

38. Help students realize the impact of screens

D. Catherine Jackson

Dr. Catherine Jackson, Licensed Psychologist and Neurotherapist

Screens and modern technology have many benefits. However, too much screen time may cause changes in the brain and can also lead to other problems such as obesity and sleep difficulties.

Sleep difficulties, which can be caused by too much screen time, in and of itself leads to an array of other problems. These include brain cells dying, the difficulty for brain cells to communicate with each other, attention, focus, and memory issues to name a few. All of these can affect academic performance.

Some of the warning signs that your student may be addicted to screen time and may require some changes to be made around its use include:

  • They have a difficult time getting off screens even when they are given time warnings. For example, if you tell them they have 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and now it is time to turn off the screen and they continue its use or you physically have to turn off the screen yourself. This may be a sign that changes need to be made around screen time use
  • When screen time is over or turned off your student’s mood changes. They are happy while using screens (video games, watching TV, on a mobile phone, etc.). However, once the use of the device is over, your student becomes very angry, name-calling, cursing, hitting others including you, and/or has a meltdown, this is a major sign your student is likely addicted to screens. Major family conflicts and changes in emotions should not occur because your student can no longer use screens
  • If your student only uses screens and no longer engages in any other activities, or refuses to try non-screen-based activities, addiction to screens may be present. Screens to the exclusion of everything else is not a healthy habit

However, you can teach your student to self-regulate themselves and their screen time. Teach your student, as with nearly everything in life, there are limits to screen time. Set boundaries around when screen time can occur and when it cannot, how long your student is able to have screen time, and the consequences when screen time rules are broken or they exhibit poor behavior as a result of screen time. With limits and regular practice, self-regulated screen time becomes a regular part of the day-to-day routine.

So what to do with all that extra time that screen time occupied? Encourage your student to read, play board games, engage in family time, participate in hobbies, volunteer, and join clubs, preferably ones that promote socialization with peers.

39. Do one healthy thing together as a family that doesn’t involve screens for screen time management

Dr. J Paul Rand, Education Leader

Dr. J. Paul Rand headshot
Dr. J Paul Rand

Medical centers across the nation are inundated with young adults struggling to overcome years of anxiety, depression, and other concerning issues at rates our nation has never encountered prior to unrestricted screen time.

Signs of screen time addiction:

  • Social withdrawal. When your student sits on a couch for hours on their tablet or phone, this is not normal behavior. Most doctors suggest an hour of screen time a day
  • When a student struggles to hold pens at a young age but can operate a smartphone better than you; or when their sleep habits are outside of a 7-8 am rise and  8-9 pm sleep routine
  • When neither you nor your student can finish reading a short book due to a lack of attention
  • When a student’s outbursts are so extreme when a tech device is taken, the focus shifts to ensuring they do not hurt themselves
  • Or, when a student can not complete a statement without checking their phone; or when they cannot participate in a hands-on event without recording it to share online

Tips for preventing screen addiction and helping students who are struggling:

  • Interact: Get down at their level, crawl around, and play games on the floor
  • Lead by example: Spend 30 minutes daily writing in a journal and be sure they see it. Encourage them to follow suit by buying them a really nice pen and a really nice paper journal
  • Do one healthy thing together: It does not matter their age, whether they’re 17 months or 17 years old. Take time for a brisk walk, some light stretching, and talk and listen to them
  • Read and let them see you doing so: Read physical books, not an electronic device, and read stories together

40. Get students excited about activities that are not screen-related

Reuben Yonatan, GetVOIP

Reuben Yonatan headshot
Reuben Yonatan

If your student gets irritable at even the mention of an activity that doesn’t involve a phone, that’s a huge red flag! That isn’t to say that every time you suggest taking their phone away when they’re actively engaged in something means that they are addicted – none of us like being interrupted. However, your student should be open to activities that are not phone-related. If you are having trouble with separating them from screens, I highly suggest more outside time.

Be sure to lead by example. We all know the saying, “do as I say, not as I do”. That exists for a reason – students watch their parents and other adults, so it’s time we put our phones down and start leading by example.

If you are a busy professional, do your best to finish all work-related communications before you get home, and turn your phone off before even entering the house. If you simply can’t draw that line, at least keep your phone out of sight. It may feel a bit deceptive, but you are trying to model positive behavior for your developing student.

41. Make an effort to understand how your student is spending their screen time

Ana Jovanovic, Parenting Pod

Ana Jovanovic headshot
Ana Jovanovic

Some screen addiction warning signs are:

  • Screen time is taking most of their free time
  • Taking their electronics away causes frustration, anger, or anxiety
  • They find it hard to organize their play without electronics
  • Students tend to neglect their other interests because of electronics
  • They lose track of time when they’re playing video games or watching TV shows
  • Screen time is distracting them from their responsibilities
  • Screen time is not necessarily as enjoyable, as much as it gives them something to do
  • They tend to play on their own (and not make it a social activity, with friends or family)
  • It’s difficult for them to focus on anything but electronics
  • They find most things to be boring

How can parents help prevent screen addiction?

  • Walk the talk
    Don’t tell your student how damaging screen time is, and then spend the whole evening on social media. As a parent, make sure you practice what you preach
  • Establish family rules and agreements
    Having family rules around electronics use can help manage the amount of time spent with screens. One example is not to use electronics when you’re all eating together or no phones after bedtime. It’s important that the rules apply to all family members and that together, you hold each other accountable. However, just taking away electronics doesn’t make much difference if the time is not filled with other equally entertaining activities. This is why it is a good idea to organize family movie or game nights, visit places, or volunteer together
  • Make an effort to understand what your students are spending time on
    Before you judge the amount of time your student spends with screens, make sure you make an effort to understand how it is spent. If you are on their case about screen time without showing any interest in what they are playing, watching, or listening to, they are likely to think that you don’t really get why it is necessary for them to spend so much time next to the screens. Have them show you how a game is played or what Youtube videos make them laugh. Sit with them through an episode of their favorite TV show and try to get to know the characters
  • Introduce them to fun and useful ways to use technology
    The solution is not to take away their phones or stop them from binge-watching a new TV series. Instead, show them interesting ways to use technology that relates to their interests. Do they love gaming? Have them take an introductory course in game design. Do they spend too much time watching TV? Watch a show, movie, or documentary that is educational and fun and that is connected to their interests
  • Help them explore ways to organize their free time
    I have worked with many students who don’t know what to do with their free time other than play games or watch videos and TV shows. Logging in to play a game or turning on the TV requires minimal effort and is stimulating most of the time. Helping them understand the ways in which they can organize their time better can help decrease the amount of screen time. Variations of DIY projects, extracurriculars, sports and clubs at school, legos, puzzles, books, time with friends and family – support them in figuring out what they enjoy doing when they are not using the screen

42. Know when too much is too much

Alon Shwartz
Alon Schwartz

Alon Shwartz, unGlue app

Screen time, digital addiction, or device addiction are all the same. A few years ago, it was hard to convince people that this is a reality. This is a real problem, a real addiction, a real phenomena. Everyone waited for the medical community to catch up. The reality is, you look around and everyone's face is buried in their devices.

We're all spending on average over six hours a day doing different things; it can be social media, watching videos or it could be playing games. This is not a kids' problem. This is something we have to face and admit. This is a cultural problem. This is a consumption problem. This is a consumption of digital content that is hard to stop. It's hard to stop because devices are always around. It is the last thing we see before we go to sleep and the first thing we see when we wake up.

We need to learn to start teaching students how to manage their own time which is much harder and much more important in our day and age.

  • Lead by example. Have some ground rules that you obey. We surveyed hundreds of kids and a vast majority of them stated that their parents are the biggest hypocrites in the world. They have certain rules for kids and a different set of rules for themselves when it comes to technology
  • Empower kids. Make them feel that they were controlling the situation within the boundaries that we define as parents
  • Trust students with their ability and teach them how to do it the right way like you do with everything else

43. Use positive methods for teaching kids how to manage screen time

Zahir Robb, Star Prep Academy

Headshot of Zahir Robb
Zahir Robb

More and more, colleges are looking at ways to access the huge amount of applications that they see. The number of applications coming through are getting higher and higher: in some cases, we’re pushing a hundred thousand.

But, college admission officers have to go through a large number of applicants in a quick amount of time. As much as they do their best to go through a holistic review of each application, a quick Google search can yield a lot too.

I think that speaks to how people, once again, manage their time. It’s being effective with that time that they use, and to not waste that time. So rather than be users and consumers, we would like to see students be productive in the time that they use.

There are many things students can do to still satisfy that digital desire that they have, but still be productive. So whether it’s building their own website, apps, whatever that may be, it's important to use that time that they have online or with technology to be productive.

I think that really sends a message out to do a quick Google search of your name, to see what their results show. It’s important that you control and curate your own online profile, rather than let others dictate what people see about you. The more productive you can be, the more you can control that dialogue, the more you control those top results.

I think it’s talking them through this process, and finding out what they’re sharing, and highlighting all the good things that they do. Making sure when they do reference those things, they are giving thank-yous to the organization, thank-yous to those people they work with, reinforce that it’s a team concept. Encourage them to really look at what they post, and try to be positive about it.

I think too often, we share the Twitter rant or a complaint on Yelp or whatever it may be. We can all tend to be negative online but try turning it into a more positive space. I think that’s where I really reach all of our students, let’s try and take that narrative that the internet is this dangerous and evil place and do our best–within our community anyways–to create a more positive environment.

Do that by posting more positive comments by your peers or friends, to boost their activities, and watch their videos and to like them, and to do whatever you can, rather than, just make them look foolish, whatever they typically do today, so just really building upon that positivity I think is essential.

44. It's important to remember that there's the real world and then there’s the online world

Headshot of Jill Simonian
Jill Simonian

Jill Simonian, TheFabMom.com

As parents, what's important, is to remember that there's the real world and then there’s the online world. Not only do we need to parent them in the real world, we also have to parent in the online world.

I will tell my kids “Okay, if something comes up on your tablet that is scary nasty or something bad you need to tell me, you'll tell me right?”

I pick up my daughter from school, she's in kindergarten, and the first question I ask her is to tell me three things that happened today: three good things and one bad thing, and she’ll tell me.

But, I think as they get older, the question should be “What happened at school today”, and then the other question should be, “What happened on Instagram today?”

Those conversations should start organically, and you specifically ask, okay, so in your digital world tell me one good thing and one bad thing that happened today.

I was in a kindergarten orientation yesterday and the occupational therapist came in, and what they told us parents, is that “We have to tell you guys, the past few years, we have seen a measurable decrease in hand gross, fine, motor skills with incoming children”, because they’re swiping, and they're not in the dirt, and they're not climbing. It's a physical thing. I'm not a doctor but I'm sure that it extends beyond the kindergarten age.

45. Balance between controlling and self-managing

Headshot of Dolly Klock, MD
Dolly Klock

Dolly Klock, MD, Adolessons

Students are not just going to have to get through school, they’re going to have jobs, where they will have the same distractions. I think it’s about connecting with your child on this topic, and sharing what you have found to be pitfalls for yourself… I will talk to my kids about how “today I was just not as productive as I wanted to be”, and I’ll talk about what happened.

Or I’ll talk about what works well for me: "Today I put my phone on airplane mode, or I used the Freedom app, which is an app where you can shut down distracting websites.”

It’s about being realistic about these distractions. This is very, very, real for a kid and we know there’s an evolutionary need for them to connect with their peers. That’s why they’re on their phones.

They just want to be with their peers, just the way we did when we were their age, we just didn’t have the same technology.

46. Encourage using the Internet to do good

Headshot of Connie Albers
Connie Albers

Connie Albers, Speaker, Home Education Expert

I like to tie in two pieces to this. One is that students need to learn their time is limited, so we want it to be productive. So what I did was I took 10 pennies; each penny represented 30 minutes. They were given 10 pennies a week. Initially I allowed them to spend them however they wanted, and by Tuesday they were gone—so they realized that wasn’t working, because they had to go the rest of the week with no screen time. So they quickly learned, if I use two pennies a day, that gives me an hour, and then I’m able to stay connected, right?

The other element when it comes to being productive is that once they understand their time is important and they only have so much they can do with it, let’s now teach them to be engaged in the community and to do good with social media. Because let’s face it: technology and social media can be a wonderful opportunity to teach these tweens and young people that they can make a difference. I suggest they find a cause—something they’re passionate about, either in their community or their school—and then spend some of their time promoting an event, creating an event or creating awareness. So that’s how I teach them time management and how to use it for something that is beneficial to the community.

47. Keep technology out in the open

Headshot of  Natalie Cabinda
Natalie Cabinda

Natalie Cabinda, author of "Regroup. Refocus. Rebuild: Helping Families Navigate from Breakups to Breakthroughs"

I think parents absolutely need to keep technology out of children’s rooms, especially if they are not home to supervise and see what children are doing. I know parents have crazy schedules, and it’s almost impossible sometimes to supervise their children. But going into kids’ rooms and making sure there is nothing that distracts them from schoolwork is extra important.

I also emphasize family time. That’s when parents can sit down with their kids and talk about the importance of technology and what kids should be doing or not be doing during certain times. If parents can limit the amount of time that children have online, they will be more constructive in terms of working on schoolwork.

Headshot of  Mercedes Samudio
Mercedes Samudio

48. Teach students to use good judgement and limit screen time —even when you’re not around

Mercedes Samudio, Parent Coach

One of the tips that I really love—especially because more and more schools are bringing technology into their educational environment—is to begin to guide and teach children how to use technology as opposed to just restricting it or taking it away. It’s about really teaching our kids how to be digital natives and learn how to use it in a really healthy way.

Even if we can’t always supervise them, if we teach them how to think critically about the time they’re spending and the things they’re doing online, then even when we’re not around they’ll be better able to make healthy decisions.

Headshot of Andrea Gribble
Andrea Gribble

49. Set limits as a family and hold one another accountable for too much screen time

Andrea Gribble, Author of The VonAwesome Family in a Digital Daze

I’m a mom of two, and my husband has four boys, so when we’re all together we’re a modern-day “Brady Bunch.” When I was talking to middle schoolers about being safe and kind online, I realized my own kids needed to be talked to. So I went and looked for a children’s book. I couldn’t find one, so I decided to write one. My children’s book really tackles finding a technology balance in the home. Your guests have shared great rules, like not letting the devices get into the bedroom, and maybe setting time limits using pennies; I love that.

The key is to write those down, and what we love to do is actually sign our rules list and put it up on the refrigerator, where everyone in the family—kids too—are involved in setting the limits. Then everyone in the family should help hold one another accountable. So if your first grader catches dad on his cell phone at the dinner table, that first grader should say, “Hey dad, we made a rule that we weren’t going to have those at the table. We should really work to keep those rules.”

James Emry
James Emry

50. Build an online peer group for giving and volunteering

James Emry, Author of Positive-ly Uncertain

Using social media to become a part of something bigger is wonderful, and a great way to make that a regular habit is to bring in some social support behind it. Parents tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to technology and apps, and there are some that are a little scary. But you can also cultivate a passion for volunteer work by involving your peer groups and connecting with like-minded people.

Rally around a certain thing that you really have a passion for. That’s the way to keep the coals burning and keep the kids incentivized. It also helps to counteract what people are calling FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. That’s a big thing with social media these days, because people tend to put their “highlight reel” on Facebook and Twitter, and you only see their best aspects. Nobody puts the bad day they had, so it’s not good for the mind of adolescents.

So instead of always thinking, “Everybody else has an awesome life,” this is a way to say, “Oh, this other person supports charities.” And it makes it more of a normative action and normative behavior that people are going to emulate.

Headshot of Natalie Andreas
Natalie Andreas

51. Try the 25/10 rule for how much screen time for kids

Natalie Andreas, Digital Consultant

What I see working really well whether at home or in the classroom is balancing out the digital experience for teens and kids, but not necessarily making it, “Okay, here’s your screen time, and now you have to stop” experience.

I certainly think kids should be outside and having a great time there, but what can work well when they’re working on a project or doing a big research assignment or a book report using the Internet is giving them 25 minutes to work really hard and then saying, you know what?

For 10 minutes, you can play this game with your friends, or you can be on this specific social media site. It’s okay to have fun online as long as you get your schoolwork done as well. So when you balance out 25 minutes of productivity with 10 of fun, I see kids be much more productive overall.


It can be difficult for parents to limit screen time, but if parents follow the advice from these experts, it can get easier.

For younger students, parents and educators can:

  • Find alternatives to screen time:
  • Puzzles
  • Building Lego sets
  • Reading out loud
  • Spelling words
  • Making up a song
  • Listening to music
  • Going for a walk
  • Create a daily routine for your family that has screen time scheduled for limited periods of time
  • Model positive screen time behaviors for your children. If you don’t want your children to use their phones in certain circumstances, then it’s important that you don’t use your phone in those scenarios
  • Have regular discussions with your student about digital safety. Remind them to never share personal information online and that they can always come to you if they experience anything uncomfortable
  • Keep the family computer (and any devices your student has access to) in a central area of your home and use visual timers to track your student’s screen time

For older students, parents and educators can:

  • Set a screen time schedule for your family that includes blackout days and times (e.g. no screens one hour before bed, no devices at the dinner table, etc.)
  • Encourage your student to find offline activities they would be proud to share on social media. This can generate excitement if it means your student will have new content to post online
  • Monitor your student’s screen time activity and use the same apps as them. When students know that their parents are reviewing their digital footprint, they tend to keep their activity more positive
  • Have regular discussions with your student about digital safety. Remind them that they can always come to you if they experience anything uncomfortable online
  • Consider taking a social media vacation as a family

Additional resources

Listen to Beth and Andrea discuss screen time reducing tips in the SmartSocial MomTalk podcast

First Cell Phones for Kids (Gabb vs. Pinwheel vs. Bark vs. Troomi)

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


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