the zen of screen time: how to help your children find balance

TVs, computers, tablets, phones, and video games…

Do you ever feel like your children are overloaded with screens?

The key to creating balance isn’t a set number of hours. It’s a mindset.

Shift how you see the screen

I’ve heard many parents worry what screen time is doing to their child’s brain or development. They set boundaries from a place of fear, which just perpetuates a lot of what they don’t want.

Rather than create boundaries out of fear, create them from a place of reason and wisdom.

Having a smartphone, tablet, computer or TV is just like having a refrigerator or a car or a toilet. It’s all just stuff we have in our lives to make them more comfortable and useful. You can spend too much time on ANYTHING, technology or not.

Treat a screen as you treat the refrigerator—as a useful item. How do you choose to make it useful to you?

Shift how you see your child

Balance doesn’t look the same to every single child in every instance. Don’t make boundaries the same across age and Energy Type. Which Type of child are you supporting?

  • Fun-loving Type 1: They’re naturally drawn to animated games and shows with a lot going on. If you intuitively sense they’re out of balance, consider where they’re not getting enough animation in their lives.
  • Sensitive Type 2: They’re drawn to screen experiences that keep them connected (for example, Facebook). They can experience imbalance when they feel more connected online than they do in person. Where do they need more personal connection?
  • Determined Type 3: More physically oriented, these children don’t tend toward screen overuse. If they do, there’s an imbalance in the amount of activity they’re allowed to have. Which outdoor activities does your child want your support in?
  • More Serious Type 4: The Type most prone to get engrossed in gaming. Invite them to set time boundaries together with you—they’ll naturally follow the structure they set. Consider a leeway day on the first day they have a new game.

When setting boundaries, always ask your children WHY: Why do you want more time on that device? They might not even want more time—they may just want more of a say.

Shift how you see yourself

Because these devices capture our children’s attention and give them something to do, parents have the opportunity to default to them. The question really is, how much are you using screen time to distract your child?

As parents, we’re responsible for maintaining balance and guiding our children to experience it. Decide for yourself when is it appropriate to not turn on the movie and just chat or learn together. As you are more intentional, your children will be, too.

Share a comment with your thoughts. And then get off your screen and go play with your kids!

Image by Clark Maxwell

Carol Tuttle

About Carol Tuttle

Mother of five and grandmother of seven, Carol is the original Child Whisperer. She is dedicated to turning longstanding parenting myths on their head and giving adults tools to create cooperation and joy with the children in their lives.

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