3 Unexpected Ways To Help Your Kids Be Mindful About Screen Time

Scientists may be debating whether our attachment to technology should be considered a formal addiction, but parents of school-aged children don’t need to wait for academic consensus to recognize that our devices have in many ways transformed our lives and family dynamic.

“It’s an interesting question about whether we’re addicted or just overly attached,” James A. Roberts, author of the forthcoming book Too Much Of A Good Thing: Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone? told The Huffington Post. “But is our cell phone use getting in the way of our relationships with our children or our work or family affairs? That’s the real question.”

If you feel like you can’t capture your spouse’s attention as much as his tablet, or that your once-bubbly teen has been rendered silent now that she has a smartphone in hand, you already know that something isn’t quite right. We interviewed three technology and child development experts for their take on how to re-calibrate your family’s technology use. Check out their recommendations, below:

Dr. Michael Rich: “Forget about time limits.”

There’s no use in pretending that computers, phones and other tools aren’t an integral part of modern life, said Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital. He calls specific time limits a hold-over from the days when all screens did was deliver passive entertainment. Now, children are expected to do homework, socialize and express themselves creatively using technology.

What’s more, setting strict time limits will only make devices “forbidden fruit,” according to Rich. That’s backed up by recent research from Lebanon that found, unfortunately, that children whose parents used screen time to discipline them had significantly more of it compared to kids whose parents didn’t use screen time to punish or reward.

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