Parent's Guide: Build A Family Media Strategy That Works

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Parent's Guide: Build A Family Media Strategy That Works

We interact with technology now more than ever. As of 2018, the average family household has between 8-10 connected devices, and the average teen spends up to 50 hours a week in front of these screens. There often can be long-term consequences of excessive screen time for children and teens, including a higher risk of obesity, greater mental health issues, and social disengagement. However, most parents often do not have an intentional strategy that helps them purposefully choose how their family will spend their time online. Here’s how you can ensure each member is making safe and purposeful choices with their technology use:

  • Establish Clear Rules - As parents, it is important to be on the same page with your family’s relationship to technology. Decide how much you want your family to be connected and which activities are acceptable online. Also, setting time limits or curfews for media use and removing them from bedrooms can also be beneficial.

  • Make Media A Privilege - Make it clear that screen time is a privilege that needs to be earned, and can be taken away at any time. Often children and teens will test parental limits and push back on this idea by whining or acting out. Encourage them to consider alternatives such as homework or chores before allowing screen time.

  • Educate Your Family - Take the opportunity to have a conversation with your family about the current media landscape and their online activities. Discuss of the dangers of tech addiction, false or deceptive ads, online bullying, and keeping valued information private. Discuss the dangers of too much violence exposure and help them learn how to be an informed viewer.

  • Set The Example - Children will learn more from what you do rather than what you say. Telling teens to shut off their electronics while you are sitting in front of the television isn’t likely to be effective. Be a good role model and set the example by limiting your own screen time and being present with your family.

  • Encourage Tech-Free Activities - Whether it’s playing a board game or going on a family hike, schedule some tech-free times into your family schedule. You may also consider making mealtimes a “tech-free zone” or agree that a certain day of the week your family will unplug from media and intentionally connect with one another.

Electronics and screens aren't going away anytime in the near future, and there are positive aspects to their use as well. As parents, you can teach your children to use their devices with purpose and intention by creating a family media strategy and setting healthy limits.