By Karina Dach, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

​1. Commit to the changes. Before you implement change in the home make sure you are ready to follow through with the adjustments. If the rule is not to have screens at dinner time make sure YOU don’t have your screen out either. Try not to talk about making any changes unless you are serious about the modifications. Your kids watch and listen much more closely than you think. Set a good example for them and commit to the things you say.

2. Entitlement. Screens are a privilege. Your child has a screen because you have gifted them a screen. It is important for them to remember that and for the screen to be something they learn to earn. Whenever your child is able to make choices based on your family values and principles those positive choices can be rewarded with screen time. For example, good grades = screen time, being respectful = screen time, completing chores = screen time, etc. If your kids choose not to make value based decisions they are ultimately making the choice not to get rewarded.

3. Let go of your gadgets. Dock your gadgets in a central area of the house at night. Gadgets are distracting. When electronics are out of your kid’s rooms they will A) spend less time in their room B) spend more time engaged with family and C) have more time to unwind and get a good night’s rest. Try it as a family. You may benefit from it as well. Research suggests that the LED blue lights from the screens tricks the brain into believing its daytime and disrupts your REM sleep cycle. The literature points out that people who fall asleep to screens feel less rested in the morning.

4. Limit your child’s screen time. It is ok and, in fact, highly recommended to limit your child’s screen time usage. Your child does not need to be entertained by their electronics 24/7. Rather than fostering creativity and imagination, your child’s constant access to electronics may actually negatively impact their developing brain. Give your kids a break. Encourage them to access the present moment and help them learn to be mindful of the here and now. We must teach our kids how to balance the use of electronics since we live in a world that utilizes this technology on the regular. There are positive qualities of screens, but it is the job of the parent to teach their child how to use their screen responsibly. Some of today’s youth are drowning in a cyber world they call reality and it is taking a toll on the way they understand themselves, the world, and others.