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Child therapist los angeles, child behaviors, children screen time

Screen Time & Behavior Problems Do Not Have to Coexist

Getting Your Child to Follow Screen Time Rules

Whether you have a preschool-age child or a high school senior in your home, technology likely plays a significant role in your family dynamic. From the necessity of completing projects and homework assignments to communicating with friends and loved ones to the pleasure of watching movies, playing video games, and posting pictures on social media, technology has quickly become a permanent fixture in our daily culture. However, many parents are struggling with a ranging degree of non-compliance especially concerning adherence to rules and time limits established with these tantalizing devices.

The two most common behavioral challenges parents face concerning screen time are first, children using the devices without permission, and second, using the devices for discretionary time before school responsibilities have been completed. While the above two behavioral issues are different in cause, the solution to the unwanted conduct is very much the same.

Behavioral Challenge Solution: Getting My Child to Ask Permission

Cell phones, iPads, video games, televisions, and laptops come standard in most households. Because these devices are lying around available for use, it is no surprise that children, from toddlers to adolescence, struggle to resist temptation. While it is easy to understand the joy and stimulation that technology in its varying forms brings to children of all ages, parents should not expect their offspring to conform to established rules without first providing them with the foundational skillset to do so.

No adult would leave potentially harmful objects such as knives, matches, and medication within the reach of a toddler because little ones do not yet possess the intellectual capacity or level of self-control to know that these items are potentially dangerous. This is why parents must keep common household products locked up and out of the reach of children until they acquire the judgment and restraint to either leave them alone or use them appropriately.

If your child is consistently using technological devices without permission then he or she is simply not ready to have free access. Instead, establish and follow a strict schedule for all devices in the home for both required use such as homework, as well as for fun and socialization purposes. This meaning that if your child is using his or her laptop to complete school assignments, ensure the computer is being operated at a designated work station in your home and be sure that the laptop is put away upon completion of the work. Technology for discretionary or social purposes should only be granted at prescribed times, for example, video games are allowed daily from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Follow a consistent schedule for a while until your child comes to accept, without complaint, the “time and place” for technology. Once you have gained age-appropriate compliance, then try leaving your child access to the devices to see if he or she can handle following the established rules on his or her own.

Behavioral Challenge Solution: Getting My Child to Make School a Priority

It should come as no surprise to parents that most children would prefer to be playing video games, face-timing with friends, and posting on Tik Tok and Instagram rather than doing their homework. Typically, the perspective on technology is that it’s fun and rewarding while academics are viewed as boring and often a grind to get through. In response, parents often use technology as the dangling carrot to motivate children to study and complete assignments.

Using technology as part of a reward system for finishing schoolwork may accomplish the goal of making these academic duties a priority in the short-term. However, when technology is used as an extrinsic motivator, it automatically places a negative connotation on educational obligations. The truth is, a healthy student identity can only be created and maintained through an intrinsic love of learning.

If your child places more importance on technology for fun and/or social purposes, reshaping the mindset and natural affection for academic growth and achievements will once again involve the temporary regulation and even removal of electronic devices. For as much time as a child spends thinking about and desiring to play video games, he or she should be required to devote an equal amount of time and energy to studies. Parents can best support this change in thinking by finding positive ways to connect and acknowledge their child’s improved efforts and attitude about learning. Finally, moms and dads can act as role models making conscious efforts to render technological devices as secondary to learning and spending time together as a family.

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