Many disagreements are centered around getting your child off their devices at home, during school hours, and family time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that the overuse of screens can increase the risk of sleep difficulties, cyberbullying, disengagement from “real life” relationships, and can even contribute to negative school performance. By now, we know that the overstimulation of the brain by excessive screen time impacts children’s ability to focus, stay on task, and even sleep.
According to a 2013 report by Common Sense Media, children 8 and under spent 4% of their day on screen time. By 2017, that percentage jumped to 35%.
We are at an all-time high for screen time usage!
OurPact is developed to help families set limits while fostering healthy communication around screen time in the quintessential 21st century home. No child is the same, and for that reason OurPact allows parents to tailor various features to their individual children and teens’ needs.
Interested in using OurPact to limit screens, but not sure where to start? A conversation should always be the first step.
Here are some tips to help with the process…
1. Consistently Instill Screen Time Etiquette
Teaching screen time etiquette is as important in the 21st century as teaching children how to use a fork and spoon. This is a new type of parenting that requires parents to teach their kids how to manage time with their devices. Parents lives are hard enough — staying present, consistent, and on top of your child’s screen time management is hard enough. Ensuring we are setting boundaries and teaching etiquette in the right way is even harder.
The key to reinforcing good behaviors is consistency. OurPact allows you to stay consistent by programming app usage schedules, while eliminating the pressure of monitoring the time.
Remember: what you model, your child learns! If you want to teach your child screen time etiquette, practice what you preach! 😁
2. Use Positive Reinforcement to Encourage Healthy Habits
It can help to think about using OurPact as a way of providing positive rewards and reinforcements on a consistent basis. The way you think about this will help minimize the negative association your child might have with the app. Think of it like this, we go to work so we can receive our paycheck (and, for some, to receive verbal praise and acknowledgment). Think of screen time as your child’s allowance for positive behavior. You are teaching your child fundamental skills that will help them make better choices and be responsible down the road.
“Effective discipline means that we’re not only stopping a bad behavior or promoting a good one, but also teaching skills and nurturing the connections in our children’s brains that will help them make better decisions and handle themselves well in the future.”
― Daniel J. Siegel
3. Foster Healthy Communication, While Reinforcing Responsibility
Have continual, open conversation about the agreements, rules, and expectations you wish to implement with your child. You should always come back to the discussion around screens, leaving room for suggestions and changes. You are teaching your child how to initiate conversations about responsibilities and independence. It is common for families to experience less arguments around screen time and more opportunity for healthy parent-child interaction.
Remember that this is a pact between you and your child to foster healthy boundaries and communication!
“Connection means that we give our kids our attention, that we respect them enough to listen to them, that we value their contribution to problem solving, and that we communicate to them that we’re on their side.”
― Daniel J. Siegel
4. Frame Goals and Expectations in Terms of Desired Behavior
More often than not, parents use language that emphasizes what they don’t want to see, rather than what they do want to see: the desired behavior.
In framing expectations in terms of the desired behavior, a more positive association to the limits you’re setting can be made right off the bat when introducing OurPact to your child. For example, you should clarify that the OurPact is being used in collaboration with your child, not as a form of punishment. Some other key benefits to emphasize:
- Manners: By setting aside screens during conversations and meals, you are showing respect and appreciation for those around you, and create more opportunities to connect.
- Creative Unplugged Fun: Building things with your hands and playing outdoors opens the door to discover new hobbies and interests. That’s what our senses are for!
- Balance: You can’t do everything at once! By setting tech aside during homework time or school hours, we open ourselves to richer learning experiences.
Setting boundaries around screen time is essential, but how to set those boundaries with children and teens can be daunting. By communicating consistently, and focusing on the benefits over downsides of screen time management, you will set your family up for balanced, successful relationships with technology. 😊
Do you have any other tips for introducing OurPact to your kids? Share below!
About the Author. Negeen Moussavian, M.A., AMFT, is a Registered Associate Marriage & Family Therapist based out of Los Angeles, California (#107771). After receiving her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, Negeen dedicated her practice to helping her clients navigate life challenges. She has extensive experience working with children and families. To learn more, visit TherapyWithNegeen.com.