We're Fighting Over the Kids' Screen Time. Is There an App For That?

2 years ago

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My wife and I totally disagree about our kids and screen time. She is the Tough Mom, and basically thinks the iPad will eventually melt their brains. I’m the Relaxed Mom (a.k.a. I like my iPad!), and I think it’s totally fine -- and even educational --for the kids to Minecraft and iPad to their hearts' delight. How can we find a happy medium?

Signed,

Steve Jobs’ Black Turtleneck

Photo Credit: Petras Gagilas via Flickr.

Dear Turtleneck,

Boy, did you ever get the right Mouthy Housewife to answer your question! Because I am completely on your side and think that your Tough Mom wife is ruining the children’s happiness and inalienable right to screen time. Why, she’s practically violating the Constitution! Those poor babies! Please reassure them that help is on the way!

Except maybe she read studies that say that too much screen time is potentially damaging to children and leads to some form of couch potato-hood. Or perhaps she prefers that they engage in some old-fashioned educational activities such as playing with their peers and reading.

Hmm, I see where you’re going with this “happy medium” idea. How about this? Discuss the options with your wife -- it doesn’t have to be either no screen time or screen time to their heart’s delight, which I suspect would leave school on the "I probably should have gone, but my new app was downloading" list of regrets. Would one hour a day be acceptable to both of you? Every day or weekends only? Could screen time be used as a reward?

Personally, I do not think that banning all screens is the answer. I am assuming from your email that your children have already been exposed to it, and you can't unring that bell. And like it or not, knowing how to use technology responsibly is part of growing up in today's world. But you can monitor what your children do during their screen time and have conversations with them about it.

Both you and your wife need to be comfortable with the boundaries you set for your children and once you agree on those boundaries, commit to enforcing them. If your children see that one of you is more lenient on screen time, they may start the negotiating/lobbying process to get the other parent to relent. Nip that one in the bud and back each other up. The lessons your children will learn about limits will be worth it.

Good luck,

Marinka, TMH

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