How much screen time is right for my kid? In favor of self-regulation, not restriction

This comes up a lot. Short answer: Screen Time isn’t the best measurement, and enforcing it isn’t the best solution. What matters is the process - what can you teach your kid? how can they learn to make good screen time decisions?

The goal is self-regulation, to help kids make good screen time decisions on their own.

Because “a teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.”

It’s a life skill.

Why isn’t Screen Time the best measurement?

Screen Time isn’t the best measurement because it mixes together:

  • healthy screen time (learning, using maps, listening to music for example) and
  • unhealthy screen time (gaming at night, interruptions during learning or playing). Data doesn’t matter as much as process.

How can you have a good conversation with your child about screen time?

How can you teach them / empower them to make good screen time decisions?

What tools and rituals can you put in place to guide them?

What to teach kids when it comes to screen time for self-regulation

1. Be Mindful: know your screen time, how it’s evolving and what you’re doing with your time.

Agree to review this together with your child regularly. Set up a routine.

Open up: does this feel right? what else could we have done with our time?

2. Set Limits: what is acceptable? discuss with your child and set app time limits together.

Regular screen time limits on iPhone or Android work, or use an app for stricter enforcement.

The process still matters here: agree and commit, but also review together when needed.

3. Set Structure: when in the day is it OK to watch videos? when is it not? what about games?

Just like any other activity, schedules help the child learn how to organize their days to get things done.

With the Opal app, you can create your child’s schedules to block apps.

Start with training wheels. Regularly check in, look at screen time data, and make suggestions. You can enforce limits yourself to start.

Listen to your child, adapt, and see progress. When confident, remove the training wheels.

To conclude: teaching is the best way to learn.

All of these also apply to adults, by the way. Teaching is the best way to learn, as they say. You can download the Opal all on to measure and improve your focus each day, set app restrictions, and more.

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