Watch what happens when kids have no screen-time rules


Last week Good Morning America ran a powerful story about the intense pull of screens and why having and enforcing, limits are so important ... and hard.  If there is any way you can make the time to watch the 3-minute video with your kids, teens or students—you will be so glad you did.

The video shows what happens when a couple allows their four children ages 6 to 11 to have as much screen time as they want for 48 hours. The kids often used more than one screen at the same time, and the producers counted all screens used when calculating times—so 3 hours with two screens going would be counted as 6 hours.  The total time on screens for each of the kids came to 16, 29, 35 and 46 hours over the course of the two days. On Sunday night when the experiment finished, and the parents took their devices away, the kids had major meltdowns.

Knowing which rules, limits, and guidelines to have can be confusing for parents, and then comes the work of implementing them consistently which can be exhausting. While filming Screenagers, I learned how reticent parents are to share their screen time rules. The fear of being judged as “lazy and too lax” or “overly controlling” prevents many of us from telling others the rules we are trying (I count having no rules as a type of rule setting).

The reporter for the Good Morning America story, Becky Worley, wrote an accompanying blog to her segment in which she reveals her own family rules:

“I have been covering and studying this issue (tech) for a long time. As a result, I am super strict with my 10-year-old twins: No screens at all during the week and only TV shows on the big screen on the weekends. No YouTube, no tablet games, no Xbox or PlayStation in our house. My two exceptions are planes and hospitals.”

And to my point, she adds:

“This is the first time I’m writing about what our family does because I don’t want to seem judgmental; there are a million different types of kids, family situations, and techniques for parenting.”

If the video motivated you to rethink the limits in your home, here is a free online tool to help which is put out by American Association of Pediatrics (AAP). If you have rules, but they need a refresh, now could be that time.

For this week’s Tech Talk Tuesday here are some ideas to get a conversation going about limits:

  1. Why is tech so absorbing? In the Good Morning America video can you relate to how much the kids were on tech when things were rule-free?
  2. Do you think there should be spaces with no tech devices? Which ones?
  3. What times should tech be turned off?
  4. If you are a youth, do your friends ever mention the rules they have in their homes? If you are an adult, do your parent friends ever mention the tech guidelines and rules they have?