We sat down with Jill Simonian who is a Parenting Lifestyle TV/Media Host & Contributor, as well as the Founder of The FAB Mom to talk about screen time habits. Learn her best screen time recommendations for children.
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Screen time recommendations & key takeaways
- Set clear time guidelines for your child’s screen time. Once they get in the habit of following your guidelines, back off and let them self-regulate their screen time
- Cell phones are wonderful tools but also dangerous weapons. Teach your children that having a cell phone is a huge responsibility
- The way that social media works are people share, screenshot, and link to things. There is no such thing as deleting something and you being in the clear
How do you encourage your kids to implement self-regulating habits?
I love the way you use the word careful. I’m very strategic about when my children watch and how much they watch TV. I let them use the iPad but for a very limited time. I’m trying to train them so that they start building good habits. You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube; once things go awry it’s hard to get things back. I am trying to do as little as possible when it comes to regulating them so they can build those habits. When the kids come home, they play or draw. Lately, since it’s the first few weeks of school, they come home and want to watch TV. I let them relax, have a snack, and watch one or two episodes. After that second episode is over, we turn off the TV. We have arguments, they cry, whine, and complain then they get over it. I’m trying to create the inner time clock in their head.
What do you tell your children to do when they see something terrible?
This year because my kids are in elementary school, they’ll go to friends’ houses and have play dates. I know the kids and their parents. They’re good kids but stuff happens. We still worry that our kids are doing dangerous things and talking in a way that’s not positive. The concerns are all the same. Now in addition to all of the old-fashioned concerns, there are new concerns like if they’re playing on the iPad and type something and see something terrible. I tell my girls in an age-appropriate way, there’s a lot of stuff that you can see on an iPad. Some are naughty, bad, and inappropriate, and doesn’t go with things that we do and believe in our family. Have you ever seen something that gives you that feeling like, “Oh this seems wrong?” She goes, “no I haven’t”. I said, “so what would you do if you were at someone’s house and something came up and you got that uh-oh feeling?” She goes, “I don’t know”. I said, “okay here’s what you do, you have to listen to that little voice in your head, that says this is not right. As hard as it is you gotta say ‘we should not watch or do this’. Then you tell me and you won’t be in trouble.” Be more open and consistent about talking.
What would you tell parents that have kids between 10 and 11 who want to have mobile phones?
This is a tough topic because my kids are not 11 yet. I know the time is going to come when she’s in fourth or fifth grade and will say she is the only one without a phone. This is the part of the parenting program where we have to be tough and strict in what we decide. At the very least blame it on the law, tell children that the law says they can’t use this stuff until they are 13. So if you get this for them, the police are gonna find you and you’re going to jail. I’m the type of parent that will go there and say that. At one of your conferences, an expert said mobile phones are a wonderful thing yet a dangerous weapon. As parents, we have to teach our kids that using them is a huge responsibility. You would never petition the state to let your child get a driver’s license at the age of 12. Why would you get them a smartphone that takes so much responsibility and maturity to use? Why would you get that before the recommended age of 13?
Let’s talk about the website Wait Until 8th, what is it all about?
I found this website through my own work. I do parenting segments on-air for CBS Los Angeles news right now. While looking for some different resources about screen time, I found this website called waituntil8th.org. It’s a pledge for parents and kids to wait until the eighth grade to get a smartphone. It talks about how Bill Gates doesn’t think that smartphones are right for kids under the age of fourteen. A lot of tech experts and executives said cell phones are not right for kids.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions that you hear parents say all the time?
I always hear, “you can delete posts that you don’t want people to see”. They are not gone, even if you delete something. If your kid sent something to another kid, the other kid can take a screenshot and save it on their phone. So, it is not gone. I can go through and delete everything that I have posted. The way that social media works are people share, screenshot, and link to things. There is no such thing as deleting something and you being in the clear. Don’t count on it being gone if you delete it.