Trying to pry an iPad out of your kid’s hands is a million times harder than trying to get a toddler to put on shoes — yes, honey, WITH the socks — and we all KNOW how much that sucks. Screen time management can be a full-time job for most parents that involves a very high level of whine…and wine! We’re not gonna lie — sometimes we just give up and let them watch whatever because who has the energy?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screens until 18 months, but any parent who has tried to eat in a restaurant with a toddler has likely handed the kid a phone so they can eat in peace. A more recent study from the University of Oxford offers up some new research, though, saying:
“Our findings suggest the broader family context, how parents set rules about digital screen time, and if they’re actively engaged in exploring the digital world together, are more important than the raw screen time.”
But how do you go about setting those limits without the battles? Well, we cracked the code — and we know it sounds too good to be true, but it turns out it’s really simple. Like a magical unicorn, but less pointy.
Here’s how we did it:
Break It Down for the Kids
Put off being a “mean” mom (at least until the kids are teens) by explaining the WHY behind the rules — and lean heavily into the idea that less screens equals more time together too.
Figure Out What Your Limits Are and Set a Schedule
Of course we want to follow the best expert advice about tech time, but we also want to protect our own sanity. So choose limits that work not just for the kids, but for YOU. If you need 20 minutes of downtime after dinner, go ahead and let them have the iPad for a bit.
Put Your OWN Phone Down Too
Okay, look. We’re not going to guilt or shame you for being on your phone all the time. We’re adults, our brains are fully formed, we can handle it. And we can tell our kids that too. But it’s still good advice to put it down now and again. Try reading a magazine or print book too. Retro, but awesome!
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
We learned the hard way that just setting limits isn’t enough. You can’t leave the tech where your kids can see it because they’ll immediately start working on you. We were excited to see the Kickstarter for The DenTM, a product that locks tablets and phones away and charges the devices — and the drawer we WERE using to hide them did none of that.
Software Can Help Set Limits Too
Once your kid has that device in hand, you need to set some additional limits. TechDenTM, the makers of The Den for locking away your devices, also has a great app that helps you set limits across multiple devices and send you notifications too.
Definitely Plan Binge Days
Every now and again, take a break and just let the kids have all the time they want, especially if they are home sick. And you know, some days you just have to take a knee as a mom. If that means letting your kids have some extra time with screens, GO FOR IT. We’re not here to judge. After all, life is about finding that perfect balance.
Once you’ve set up the limits and hidden away the devices, you’ll be shocked by how seamlessly it all works. We’ve found TechDen really helps to find that perfect balance between screen time and family time. Of course there will be those moments when the kids whine and say, MOM, I’M SOOOO BORED, but now we just offer to play a game or suggest they read a book and there’s no cage match battle of wills.
Except about what we’re having for dinner. Being a mom is not for the weak, right?
Having trouble tearing your kids away from their smartphones and tablets? Introducing TechDen! We’ve created a smart new way to help kids develop healthier screen habits. Parents schedule kids’ screen time with an app. Then kids store their devices in The Den, a secure charging station. Devices are out of sight, out of mind.