Screens & Tweens: Managing Screen Time With Your Tween

It’s not a surprise that more and more kids have access to screens – from tablets to phones to video games. And, with more and more schools bringing technology into their learning environments, I know that you tween is most likely getting more screen time than you ever thought they would. But, don’t fret. Although it can feel good to know exactly how much time your tween should be on their screens, this video will give you more strategies that you can use to determine just what screen time looks like in your home!

No time to watch. Check out the transcript below.

One of the questions I get asked constantly is: how much screen time is enough screen time for my kid, especially if you’re a parent of a tween?

I get this question all the time. And I’ve answered it through different mediums; through different blog posts over and over, but I really wanted to take some time to give you three really practical skills on what you can do.

Know Your Tween’s Screen Habits

The first skill, that I think will really help you in really realizing what is appropriate for your child and what’s not appropriate for your child when it comes to screen time, is to really know and understand your child habits around their screens and their devices. It’s really difficult to set limits on a behavior when you don’t know what the baseline is for that behavior. What I mean is really understand when, why, how and what: look at how many times during the day does your child use their device, for how long, how hard is it for them to get away from that device when you call them or tell them to do it, and why are they using it in the first place. When you begin to observe and understand those behaviors around your kids and their screens and devices, then you can actually begin to set limits and placed different ideas on how much screen time it is.

For me, there is no set time limit that I recommend for parents. What I recommend more than anything is to really know how your kid is using it and why they’re using it before you begin to set limits for them. This way you can actually set limits for them that are healthy and realistic as opposed to just having the generic limits that don’t really apply to them and their use of their devices.

Before setting screen time limits, you must first understand what your tweens baseline habits are around their devices.

Set Limits Based On Observations

That actually leads us into the second tip that I’m going to give you: once you have all this information from your observations of your child, now you can actually sit down with them and begin to have discussions around what limits you want to set for your child when it comes to screen. And I really I want you to be really aware that I’m saying have a discussion. It’s not just you come up with a rule and then tell it to your them, especially with your tween. It’s more about opening a discussion! For example, you could start off with, “Well you know what I’ve noticed is you use your device during this time” or “…use it for this many hours during the day” or “I notice XY and Z things when it comes to your devices and I’d like to talk about how we can monitor that little bit better.”

This discussion not only allows you to hear what your kid does and to hear their point of view about things, but it also allows for you both to really focus on the relationship between you and your child; a relationship where it’s not just you having power over them but it’s you using your power as a parent to guide them to creating really healthy boundaries for themselves.

The idea behind opening up a discussion about setting limits around screen time, as opposed to you doing it yourself and then giving it to them, is that as your kid begins to internalize those limits and understand why these limits exist. Your tween begins to understand that it’s a part of their core values. They begin to realize that this is something they want do to actually take care of to be healthy.

Use the observations you’ve made to open a two-way discussion about setting limits around screen time with your tween.

Reassess And Have Continued Discussions

The third tip really focuses on the ideas that limits are very fluid. What might work this year for your child, might change in the next school year. What might work this month, may change in the next month. And you really want to leave your limits and your discussion open to constantly change and constantly evolve with the limits around screen time as you and your child evolve and grow as well.

After you’ve talked about it, you’ve obtained all those observations, and you’ve created a discussion, one things still remains: those limits are not set in stone rules that both you and your child always have to follow. I challenge you to take into account the fact that things change – obligations change, life changes – and begin to continuously reassess and discuss what screen time really looks like in your home. That might even might you reassessing your own screen time and when you are be going to using it or not. It doesn’t mean that you have to have your limits as the same as your tween’s limit. However, that opened discussion about devices and screen time in your home includes you as well. So if your child has questions about how much screen time you’re using, let that be a really good discussion about why you use screens, what you’re using it for, and when you and your child can come to a compromise of when the family isn’t going to be using screens. Whether it be for school, work or leisure. Your family can maintain an open discussion when it comes to screen time and devices. This way it doesn’t become this punitive thing between you and your child, but it becomes this idea that we as humans are all learning how to engage and interact with our screens and with our devices in a the way that’s healthy.

Devices are here to stay so we really have to continuously reassess and discuss what it looks like to have screens and devices active and available in our home. And I believe that when you take tip number three and you keep reassessing and you keep discussion and you keep those discussions opened then you and your child can talking really develop healthy habits around screen time and it doesn’t have to be such a power struggle between you two.

Be open to constant discussions around screen time so that it becomes more about growing as a family as opposed to punitive interactions between you and your tween.

The Recap

So let’s do a recap of the three things that you can do to really begin to have a great and healthy habits for your tween and screen time in your home.

Know your tween’s screen habits: The first tip is to really get to know your kid’s habits around screen time before you begin to set limits. Knowing their habits and understanding with their baseline behavior are, will give you so much more information that you can use then open a discussion to set limits.

Set limits based on observations: Once you have all those observations, sit with your child and have an open discussion about how limits are going to look in your family when he comes to screen time.

Reassess and have continued discussions: Begin to create a culture in your family where you are always reassessing and always discussing what it means to have screens and devices in the home. Don’t limit that discussion to just rules and limits, really talk about how everyone uses screens and why everyone uses screens. Always leave those lines of communications open and include yourself as well in that.  I believe that keeping that this discussion opened and constantly reassessing those limits as everything changes in our lives will really begin to have your child have a healthy relationship with screens as oppose to this punitive and negative I’ve got to always be addicted to my screen type relationship that some kids can develop at times.

Tween Screen Time & Digital Life Toolbox

Popular App Guide for Parents and Teachers

Navigating Your Child’s Digital Life Series: I | II | III

Common Sense Media

2 thoughts on “Screens & Tweens: Managing Screen Time With Your Tween”

  1. Love the video! You bring up some great points. I like the idea of approaching the issue as a family discussion, including our own management of screen time. Some good tips on how to launch this discussion with my kids. Thanks!

    1. Hi Natasha! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your insights! I love making tech use a family discussion because we all live in a world where each family member is using or has a device of some sort. Making it a family discussion normalizes the behavior and creates a safe space for everyone to find balance! Sending you lots of patience and light as you begin having these discussions in your home. I look forward to seeing you thoughts on other posts as well.

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