Dr. Kenney shares ways a parents can both monitor and limit a child's computer usage.
Have you ever asked your kids what kind of role model you are? Well the other day that’s what I said to my kids. I was like, “You know what, I am human. I don’t do everything perfectly but what kind of role model am I for you,” and it was very interesting to hear their response because you know what they tell me the most, “I am on my phone and I am on my computer too often,” and guess what, they are right.
So how can we, as parents and adults, be saying we need to limit our children’s screen time when we are on our screens all the time? I go to the park to exercise all the time and I routinely see mommies walking strollers talking on their phones. They are not interacting with their children. They are not chatting at all. So guess what, it’s not just your kids who need less screen time; it’s you.
The other thing is it’s so funny because when I interact with moms and dads they will say to me, “The pediatrician said my child should have less screen time,” alright, and then they say, “What planet do they live on? That is impossible.” They are like, “Well, you could say that if you do this behavior then you could earn 15 minutes of screen time and if you do this behavior then you could earn 30 minutes on the computer,” and I am thinking my kids are on video chat from 9:00 to 12:00 every night. So let’s talk about reality.
Step one is monitor and manage your own screen time. It’s totally okay to work on your computer. It’s completely okay to check your iPhone, but don’t do it in lieu of interacting with and talking with your children all day long. Sometimes you just got to put your phone in a drawer, shut the drawer and leave it at home. You don’t have to receive a phone call and answer your phone every single time somebody calls, okay?
Now when you start modeling that behavior, guess what’s going to happen? Your kids are going to get more interactive. They are going to get more interactive with you. They are going to get more interactive with their schoolmates. So number one, if you really want to join this planet and decrease screen time you’ve got to do it yourself, alright?
Second is, don’t use one behavior to leverage another behavior. That’s not a successful way to interact with a tween or a teen. Just say to your tween or your teen, “What are the things that you love to do, and what do you think you are needing to do less?” And help them learn to make their own decisions and judgments about their screen time on their own because guess what, you are not going to college with them. You’ve got to help them learn that decision-making process now.
So that’s the thing about screen time and tweens and teens, is that the best thing you can do is not go and just turn it off. The best thing you can do is teach them when they need to turn it off.
About Dr. Lynne Kenney, Psy.D.:
Lynne Kenney, Psy.D., is a mother of two, a practicing pediatric psychologist in Scottsdale, AZ, and the author of The Family Coach Method (St Lynn’s Press, Sept 2009). She has advanced fellowship training in forensic psychology and developmental pediatric psychology from Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and Harbor-UCLA/UCLA Medical School. Dr. Kenney is currently a featured expert for Momtastic.com and Parentsask.com.