Unplug yourself first to limit kids’ screen time


I’ll admit it, I often bring my phone to the dinner table. Not to look at it during the meal, but just in case. I blame the habit on past jobs that required being on-call in case of breaking news.

And since it was right there, OK, I may have checked email. Or Facebook.

According to The New York Times, now I need to feel guilty if my kid gets hooked on electronics.

“Parents are often at fault, directly or indirectly, when children and teenagers become hooked on electronic media, playing video games or sending texts many hours a day instead of interacting with the real world and the people in it,” writes Jane E. Brody. “And as discussed in last week’s column, digital overload can impair a child’s social, emotional and intellectual growth.

(That column, also worth a read, talks about the damage too much screen time can cause kids.)

I can do without the guilt, but there is some common-sense advice here on how we can get the kids to unplug, such as not letting them have TVs or devices in their bedrooms. It’s also important to lead by example. One psychologist suggests putting away our devices during “critical times” of the day, such as taking kids to or from school when we can talk about their day, or the first hour when we get home from work. The dinner table should be off-limits, too.

Does your family have device-free zones or times during the day? Share your strategies in the comments below.

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