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1/18/23 blog post

setting healthy boundaries for screen time

encourage your kids to use social media in a healthy way

kids on the phone

It’s probably no surprise that screen time and social media usage are going up (by more than a hour PER DAY in the past two years, according to a study by JAMA Pediatrics). But how can that impact children’s mental health?

Social media is like a lot of activities –it has benefits and risks. You can help children by starting conversations around social media, helping them navigate it and educate them on how to stay safe online with our resources.

How Much Social Media is Healthy?

Social media, which includes traditional platforms like Facebook and Instagram and video-based platforms like YouTube and TikTok, can have benefits if it’s used correctly and with healthy boundaries. While each child is different, in general, these are the amounts of screen time that's healthies for each age group: 

Infant Avoid screen time.
Preschool Limit non-educational screen time, and exposure to social media. Cowatch your child's activity.
Elementary   Limit social media, start talking about media literacy, continue to cowatch with y our child.
Tweens Consider requests for access and work on a family plan for social media use.
Teens Continue conversations about social media use, risks and benefits. Help your teen problem-solve.

Once you determine the amount of social media time that's healthiest for your child, consider deciding on healthy boundaries. Health boundaries around social media can improve mental health by:  

  • Encouraging kids to have more meaningful relationships 
  • Teaching kids to have self-discipline and set boundaries for themselves 
  • Avoiding overdependence on technology that leads to anxiety or depression 
  • Creating more meaningful family bonds and memories 

How to set healthy boundaries for social media?

As an adult, it's important that you model healthy boundaries around social media yourself to your children. Monitor your own phone use and habits to see if you're: 

  • Telling your kids to turn the screens off while scrolling through your own phone
  • Feeling anxious or distressed when you are away from your phone
  • Using technology to avoid other obligations 
  • Checking work emails when you are “off the clock” instead of spending time with family

Put some healthy boundaries into place for yourself. Creating a social media plan with your family can also help. You can download the plan in Spanish as well. 

Now that you’re ready to set healthy boundaries for screen time with your whole family try some of these tips: 

  1. Set up a charging station in a common area to leave your devices at night. This might mean you'll need an old-fashioned alarm clock in the bedrooms to wake you up instead, but those phones will no longer be a late-night distraction!
  2. Designate the dinner table a “no technology zone." No devices will be invited to share a meal with your family. In the meantime, you can use our conversation starters to learn more about each other. 
  3. Pick important times of the day, like when you first get home from school, to put the phones away! Catch up with your kids about what they learned during the day or how they felt at different points of the day. 

Phone-free activities for the family 

Now you've set your healthy boundaries and are left with free time with the whole family. How can you fill up these moments to keep everyone for itching for their phones? Flip through the photos below to get some inspiration!

 

Emily Weitz, BSW, LSW

Community Behavioral Health Outreach Specialist
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