By April Huard, Off-Campus Program Advisor
According to a 2015 study by Common Sense Media, the average teen spends nine hours each day in front of screens (not including educational hours). Although parents generally agree that kids should spend much less time with digital media, many are unsure exactly how to proceed when it comes to setting reasonable limits.
Dr. Sarah Domoff, director of the Family Health Lab at Central Michigan University, conducts research on children and screen time. If you’re a parent or caregiver who would like to be intentional and thoughtful about your family’s screen habits, this list of resources recommended by Domoff may help.
- The Art of Screen Time—“Enjoy Screens. Not too much. Mostly with others.” This is Anya Kamenetz’s simple yet powerful approach to children and screen time. Kamenetz, a technology expert and mother, tackles the emotional subject of kids and digital media with common sense and calm.
- Plugged In: How Media Attract and Affect Youth—This free download from Yale University Press examines both the “sunny and dark side of media use by today’s youth.”
- Common Sense Media—For parents who can’t keep up with the latest games, apps, and movies, this website is an invaluable resource. Common Sense Media provides unbiased feedback and reviews for all of the media that our kids are asking to see and use.
- Healthy Children—Parents can be more purposeful with screen time by creating a personalized family media use plan from the American Academy of Pediatrics. After answering a series of questions about your family’s goals and habits, the plan can be printed and posted where everyone in the family can see and discuss it.
- Ask the Mediatrician—This unique forum allows parents to ask a pediatrician questions about their children and screen time. Archived questions can help adults find quick answers to media concerns.
- Screenagers—This highly-praised documentary explores the impact of our kids’ hours in front of screens on their mental and physical health.
- There are many apps currently on the market that can help parents monitor and control their kids’ screen use. This list, from the creators of Screenagers, includes everything from time apps to blocking apps to driving apps.
- Finally, adults who want to help reverse the trend of putting screens into the hands of younger and younger children may be interested in joining the Wait Until 8th movement. By signing the pledge, parents are promising to wait until at least 8th grade to give their kids smart phones.
The questions and concerns surrounding screen time can often be overwhelming and confusing for parents. With a little bit of intentional research, however, we adults can make healthy decisions for our families and protect our kids’ childhoods.
What other resources would you add to this list? What guidelines have helped your family set screen time limits?