People Are Hiring 'Coaches' To Teach Them To Parent Without Screens

Zuzer Cofie/Reshot

Parents are hiring screen time coaches to teach them how to have a family that functions without phones and tablets

A recent New York Times article covered a new trend that is popping up across the nation: screen time parenting coaches who teach families how to live without being constantly plugged in. And not only does it show how desperate families are to drag their kids (and themselves) away from screens, it also shows how, well, obviously easy it is to lead a life without screens.

For example, the leading parenting coaches in the country say that the solution is as easy as getting a dog or going outside. Basically, do anything that’s not playing video games, watching television, or scrolling through social media.

“‘Is there a ball somewhere? Throw the ball,’” parenting consultant and child behavior specialist Rhonda Moskowitz said in the article. “‘Kick the ball.’”

There’s no doubt that screen time, and its negative affects, are having a huge impact on both kids and adults. There have been multiple studies about how screen time hurts kids’ ability to sleep, leads to speech delays, and takes away from kids being social. At the same time, tons of books and apps have been released in an effort to limit, curb, or completely eliminate screen time in families, although many report that little can help how angry their kids get when you try to shut off Fortnite, or how impossible it can be to stop kids from sending hundreds of texts a day.

But the parenting consultants have super simple advice. They charge around $80 an hour in rural locations, and up to $250 an hour in urban locations for an average of 8-12 sessions about limiting screen time. And their ideas are pretty simple.

“‘Do you have a plain old piece of material that can be used as a cape?’” Moskowitz said she asks parents. “‘Great!’”

Another parent consultant specialist, Gloria DeGaetano, says that moving your body is the best way to start.

“Is there enough running around that will help them see their autonomy? Is there a jungle gym or a jumping rope?”

While this advice seems obvious, and even a little condescending if we’re honest, it seems to be what parents need to reclaim their family’s lives from screens and phones. Many aren’t finding success for their kids because the adults themselves are just as addicted. Others don’t know how to teach healthy boundaries with technology because they didn’t grow up with similar technology and don’t know how to teach proper usage to their kids.

A parenting coach in Chicago, Cara Pollard, has parents sit down and try to just remember what they did as kids, before cell phones and iPads existed.

“I say, ‘Just try to remember what you did as a kid,’” she said. “And it’s so hard, and they’re very uncomfortable, but they just need to remember.”

Another parenting coach, psychologist Erica Reischer, points out that the screen time problem, and parents’ new reliance on consultants to live their lives, are two parts of the same problem.

“It’s part of the mind-set that gets us stuck on our phones in the first place — the optimization efficiency mind-set,” Dr. Reischer said. “We want answers served up to us — ‘Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.’”

It seems like one thing you could do is just take the advice given in the article — be more present, get a dog, kick a ball — and skip paying hundreds of dollars to a consultant who’s just going to tell you to turn off your screens and go outside.