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Managing our children’s technology use at home

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Managing our children’s technology use at home

Parents, with good reason, are often concerned about the minutes and hours their children spend looking at screens.  Phones, tablets, computers, and even video billboards surround us nearly every waking moment. And when phones and laptops follow us into our bedrooms, few places remain where we, and our children, aren’t looking at screens.

Teachers and parents alike don’t want kids isolated behind computer screens all day.  We want them to talk and move and play and create. We are also aware of the powerful learning experiences that can take place in a digital space, but finding balance between the online and offline worlds can be a struggle for both adults and children.  

So, what do we do?!  

First, to make sense of the conversation about screen time, it’s important to understand that HOW screens are being used is more important than how MUCH.  

For all school-age children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours or less of entertainment-based screen time.  This would include things like watching YouTube videos and scrolling social media.  

These recommendations do not include more active and academic tasks, which might include research for a school project, creating digital art or music, or collaborating with a classmate.

Research has also found benefits of digital media for school-age children when used for entertainment too! These include:

  • Exposure to fictional characters improves empathy.  Whether through a reading a story or watching a video, character-driven stories help children better understand and empathize with others.
  • Digital media can support collaboration and communication.
  • Use of digital media and social media can promote community and civic engagement as well as inclusion and connection for students who may feel marginalized.


  1. Use technology together. 
    • For younger children, co-use of technology with parents helps children transfer what they might be learning in a 2-D environment to the real world.  Whether that be a character-driven video or educational app, the conversation and interaction with an adult drive the learning.
  1. Set up parameters about when and where technology can be used at home.  
    • Screen-free times (dinner, bedtime)
    • Screen-free zones (bedrooms)
    • Screen time an hour before bedtime can negatively impact both quantity and quality of sleep.
    • Keep devices out of bedrooms and charge in a common area overnight.
  1. Model desiried behaviors.  Kids do what they see—how are you using technology around your children?
  1. Avoid digital multi-tasking as this has been shown to reduce comprehension of all tasks.

Of course, nothing is one-size-fits all.  You can create your own family media plan here that best fits the needs of your family!

Like these ideas? To learn classroom engagement strategies that make the most immediate impact, we recommend checking out our program, "Fostering Student Engagement."

Learn More >
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Amy Jimenez

Author Since: May 8, 2018

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