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Here to Help: 5 Tips for Reducing Family Screen Time

By Hina Talib | November 16, 2020 | The New York Times

Remote life can leave both kids and adults with screen fatigue. As an adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, I have some tips to help you practice digital wellness as a household.

1. Start the conversation.

As a family, watch a documentary like “Social Dilemma,” “Screenagers” or “LIKE.” Use it to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of screen time and social media. Or bring up relevant news items, such as the proposed TikTok ban, over dinner.

2. Take stock of your use.

Assess how certain apps make you feel. Eliminate unnecessary platforms that don’t bring you joy. Consider how much time you are spending with your phone. And remember: Parents modeling healthy relationships with their phones are the most influential part of family digital well-being.

3. Use your phone. Don't let it use you.

Avoid device multi-tasking, especially while trying to learn or work from home. Jumping between screens and apps makes work take longer. Pro tip: Turn off notifications for all but the essential apps.

4. Create device-free zones.

Eliminate phones from tables at mealtime and bedrooms overnight. (You might need to buy an alarm clock.) Try screen-free Saturday mornings or a daily “no-power” hour, and use that for family time instead. Challenge each other to a one-day phone fast. The first person to lose does everyone’s laundry for a week.

5. Make a family plan to moderate use.

With your kids, draft a family media plan that balances online and offline activity, outlines unsafe media use and establishes check-ins.

© 2020 THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY

Hina Talib
The New York Times

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