Screen Time Rules

When Screen Time Rules Are Broken (blogcast)

Delaney Ruston, MD
July 11, 2023
A young teen boy at night under the covers in a dark room looking at his phone

This is a rough transcript of a Blogcast I just posted called When Screen Time Rules Are Broken. I would love for you to listen to the podcast, or feel free to read it. Here is the link to listen to it.

Today, I'm discussing skillful ways to respond when tech rules get broken by our kids, which is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. It's important to acknowledge that when I mention rules related to screen time, I’m referring to rules developed through family efforts and input from kids whenever possible. 

Before we get started, it is key that we consistently point out to our kids that we know following rules is not always easy and to let them know we see them doing the work. Here is an example of what a parent might say in an effort to validate when kids are indeed following a rule:

“I want to say that I get that it's really hard to say goodbye to your friends when you're in the middle of a video game. And I know you try really hard to make sure that the game isn't going to be started right before dinner. And I just want to point out that navigating this with all your friends is tricky, yet you consistently put in a lot of effort. It shows a lot of grit. And I want to let you know that I see that.”

Take Inventory of The Emotions That Arise

Now, let's explore how to handle situations when rules get broken. Firstly, accepting that emotions will inevitably surge within us when these incidents occur is crucial. Discovering that our kids have violated a tech rule — such as secretly downloading shows to watch late at night despite the internet getting turned off — often triggers a range of emotions like frustration, anger, and others, including anxiety. Questions cross your mind like, “Am I raising a habitual liar? What does this mean for his future?”

So take inventory of your emotions. Accept them. Extensive research has shown that attempting to suppress our feelings entirely can ultimately backfire and exert control over us in various ways.

Allow Time To Respond

It can be immensely helpful to grant ourselves some grace and allow time to determine our response. For instance, you might say to your child, 

"You circumvented the policy, and I need a little time to think about this, but I'll be ready to discuss it soon." 

Or,  "I'm currently upset, and I don't make sound decisions when I'm upset. Let's reconvene and address this tomorrow." 

Or "I'm feeling a bit annoyed, but I want to let these feelings subside so we can have a calm conversation. Let's talk in a couple of hours."

Join
443
others who have made the pledge!
Thank you for making the pledge!
Please try again
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Order Here
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Parenting In The Screen Age Book Cover

Free Book Preview - Download a free preview of "Parenting In The Screen Age" by Delaney Ruston, MD

Learn More

Join Today - Members can screen and view our movies year-round, access new lesson plans, resources and much more!

Learn More
Screenagers Under The Influence Banner

Our New Movie - Learn more about the third movie in the Screenagers Trilogy

Learn More

The Screenagers YouTube Channel - Subscribe for new videos and content from our team weekly!

Learn More

Consult The Wise 

It's a beautiful idea that we can do this on our own and have specified all sorts of possible consequences for all different scenarios in advance. But it is impossible to preplan consequences for all possible transgressions.  That is really unrealistic. (Don't get me wrong, having consequences stated ahead of time is preferable, but hard to do).

It’s such a parenting gold medal move to consult with one or two wise friends to get their insights on how they would suggest responding. It has been a lifesaver for me to go to other parents with older teens and explain the situation to get a few different responses. 

Short Consequences

Kids and teens don't learn from long and overly punitive consequences. When that happens, they will just focus on being mad at the parent or parents. Short consequences work much better. 

Let's say they break a rule and sneak their phone into the room at night. And you discover that the next day, you might say: 

“I know you're responsible and usually good at following rules. Tomorrow, we'll hold on to your phone for the whole evening, but then the next day, you'll get it back because we know you're capable of following the family policies.”

So that's another reason short consequences are best. This increases the chance your kid will not be overly focused on being angry and gives us that chance to do strength-based parenting. Showing them that we know they have the strength and skills it takes to follow policies, and we want to get them back in the game. 

Let Kids Think Of Consequences

This next approach, which I consider relatively less discussed but highly beneficial, involves actively involving your children in determining the consequence. This doesn't merely entail pre-establishing consequences but also allows them to contribute after the violation of the rule has occurred.

An example: 

There was a teen who couldn't go out because of a transgression, so the consequence was they had to stay home. However, the teen and family negotiated together which night that would be. That is perfectly okay to have that type of negotiation. There will be a consequence, but the kids can have some input into it. Even though we may think that they shouldn’t have a voice in the punishment, letting them have a bit of a voice increases the chance they will feel that they're learning and thinking about how their transgression was not in their best interest.

Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Parenting In The Screen Age Book Cover

Free Book Preview - Download a free preview of "Parenting In The Screen Age" by Delaney Ruston, MD

Learn More

Join Today - Members can screen and view our movies year-round, access new lesson plans, resources and much more!

Learn More
Screenagers Under The Influence Banner

Our New Movie - Learn more about the third movie in the Screenagers Trilogy

Learn More

The Screenagers YouTube Channel - Subscribe for new videos and content from our team weekly!

Learn More

It’s Ok If They Are Mad

It’s okay for our kids to be mad at us. I don't mean to sound trite. This one has been hard for me to stomach. I really don’t like the feeling of having my kids mad at me. 

I have to remind myself that it's natural for humans to blame others for our pain. And so our kids are going to want to blame us. When we, as parents, can't tolerate it, we may succumb to overly permissive parenting. It has been shown through a great deal of evidence that overly permissive parenting is not ideal for our young people.

The good news is that by not being overly punitive, we can feel assured that their frustration with us is not the kind that's relationship scarring. 

Discard “Trust Above All Else”

It is not uncommon for parents to say to me, “You know, the most important thing is that I can trust that my teen will tell me what is going on.” 

When there are any transgressions, such parents focus on the fact that the child lied. 

Here is the truth: Lying in all its various forms — simply not disclosing all the key information, staying silent, or blatantly lying — is often a part of rule-breaking. It's not about purposely trying to hurt a parent or guardian, but our emotions of betrayal often become activated. Who likes to get deceived?

Yet focusing on the transgression above the deception is a skill psychologists often teach parents. This approach has helped me in my parenting. 

The key is focusing on why the rule was broken, how to move forward and prevent it in the future, and ongoing discussions in which you work together to set policies so people can live by them. 

That's it for this episode of The Screenagers Blogcast. I've been your host, Delaney Ruston, and please email us at info@screenagersmovie.com. Let us know what themes you want to hear this summer. Meanwhile, you can find hundreds of blog posts at Screenagersmovie.com and many resources.

Here is a video from the Screenagers YouTube Channel that talks more about this subject

Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Order Here
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Parenting In The Screen Age Book Cover

Free Book Preview - Download a free preview of "Parenting In The Screen Age" by Delaney Ruston, MD

Learn More

Join Today - Members can screen and view our movies year-round, access new lesson plans, resources and much more!

Learn More
Screenagers Under The Influence Banner

Our New Movie - Learn more about the third movie in the Screenagers Trilogy

Learn More

The Screenagers YouTube Channel - Subscribe for new videos and content from our team weekly!

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Parenting In The Screen Age Book Cover

Free Book Preview - Download a free preview of "Parenting In The Screen Age" by Delaney Ruston, MD

Learn More

Join Today - Members can screen and view our movies year-round, access new lesson plans, resources and much more!

Learn More
Screenagers Under The Influence Banner

Our New Movie - Learn more about the latest movie in the Screenagers Trilogy

Learn More

The Screenagers YouTube Channel - Subscribe for new videos and content from our team weekly!

Learn More
Screen Time Rules

When Screen Time Rules Are Broken (blogcast)

Delaney Ruston, MD
July 11, 2023
A young teen boy at night under the covers in a dark room looking at his phone

This is a rough transcript of a Blogcast I just posted called When Screen Time Rules Are Broken. I would love for you to listen to the podcast, or feel free to read it. Here is the link to listen to it.

Today, I'm discussing skillful ways to respond when tech rules get broken by our kids, which is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. It's important to acknowledge that when I mention rules related to screen time, I’m referring to rules developed through family efforts and input from kids whenever possible. 

Before we get started, it is key that we consistently point out to our kids that we know following rules is not always easy and to let them know we see them doing the work. Here is an example of what a parent might say in an effort to validate when kids are indeed following a rule:

“I want to say that I get that it's really hard to say goodbye to your friends when you're in the middle of a video game. And I know you try really hard to make sure that the game isn't going to be started right before dinner. And I just want to point out that navigating this with all your friends is tricky, yet you consistently put in a lot of effort. It shows a lot of grit. And I want to let you know that I see that.”

Take Inventory of The Emotions That Arise

Now, let's explore how to handle situations when rules get broken. Firstly, accepting that emotions will inevitably surge within us when these incidents occur is crucial. Discovering that our kids have violated a tech rule — such as secretly downloading shows to watch late at night despite the internet getting turned off — often triggers a range of emotions like frustration, anger, and others, including anxiety. Questions cross your mind like, “Am I raising a habitual liar? What does this mean for his future?”

So take inventory of your emotions. Accept them. Extensive research has shown that attempting to suppress our feelings entirely can ultimately backfire and exert control over us in various ways.

Allow Time To Respond

It can be immensely helpful to grant ourselves some grace and allow time to determine our response. For instance, you might say to your child, 

"You circumvented the policy, and I need a little time to think about this, but I'll be ready to discuss it soon." 

Or,  "I'm currently upset, and I don't make sound decisions when I'm upset. Let's reconvene and address this tomorrow." 

Or "I'm feeling a bit annoyed, but I want to let these feelings subside so we can have a calm conversation. Let's talk in a couple of hours."

More Like This

Finally, Screen Time rules That Actually Work For Your Family
August 29, 2023
Screen Time Rules

Finally, Screen Time rules That Actually Work For Your Family

Today I share my top 3 main screen time categories and offer many options of rules that can be tailored to your specific family. Let’s be real that policies for a 10-year-old will be different for a 17-year-old. Then there are factors such as kid’s maturity levels, outside activities, sibling dynamics, bandwidth of parents/guardians, and the list goes on. For this reason, having many ideas can be helpful. Let’s get started.

READ MORE >
My 3 steps for successfully creating healthier tech policies at home
August 22, 2023
Screen Time Rules

My 3 steps for successfully creating healthier tech policies at home

It’s back-to-school time and an ideal time to readdress screen time at home. Ahhhhh, so not easy! When we approach emotionally triggering topics with our kids, having a road map, including specific things to say, can be extremely helpful. I know all too well that without those things, my reactive brain can take over, and everything can go sideways. Eleven years now into studying the intersection of biology, psychology, communication science, and parenting screen time, I offer my top 3 steps for creating new or cementing existing tech time policies as back-to-school kicks off.

READ MORE >
Summer Reset — Online and Offline
June 6, 2023
Screen Time Rules

Summer Reset — Online and Offline

This summer I'm recording podcasts based on my Screenagers' Tech Talk Tuesday blogs. I'm calling these BLOGCASTS.‍ Today I'm talking about a summer reset, both in terms of screen time policies in our homes and ideas for things to do off screens.

READ MORE >

parenting in the screen age

for more like this, DR. DELANEY RUSTON'S NEW BOOK, PARENTING IN THE SCREEN AGE, IS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE FOR TODAY’S PARENTS. WITH INSIGHTS ON SCREEN TIME FROM RESEARCHERS, INPUT FROM KIDS & TEENS, THIS BOOK IS PACKED WITH SOLUTIONS FOR HOW TO START AND SUSTAIN PRODUCTIVE FAMILY TALKS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND IT’S IMPACT ON OUR MENTAL WELLBEING.  

ORDER HERE
Parenting in the Screen Age book cover