5 Simple Steps to Managing Screen Time During School Holidays
Updated: Apr 26
Dr Danielle Einstein shares her simple guide for dealing with screen time limits during the school holidays.
“Mum, can you take off my screen time limits now that it's school holidays?”
My son delivers this question in a sensitive tone, quite disarming to my motherly instincts. I can feel my mind and body tempting me to relax, as I contemplate the request. I want to give him a hug and I almost mouth “Sure.” My son’s eyes anticipate my answer…..
With the school holidays fast approaching and no homework left to do, you may have already been caught off guard by this question from your kids.
On the one hand, you want to be fair and let your child have some extra privileges during the holidays, but on the other, you are concerned that they will spend six weeks inside glued to their screen, rather than getting outside, being active and socialising, all of which are great for their physical and mental health.
As a Clinical Psychologist and mother of two teenagers, I am very familiar with this quandary, and suggest parents think it through now. Don't allow it to become an ongoing argument on the home front.
Here is a step-by-step guide for managing screen time limits during the school holidays.
If and when your child asks you to remove their screen time limits, tell them you will let them know tomorrow because you haven’t decided yet. The benefit of this response is it shows your child you are not dismissing the idea without considering it.
Come back to him or her tomorrow when you are doing something else pleasant. “You know, I thought about that request and decided that I am happy for you to try no screen time limits as long as it is after 3.30 pm each day. Although, I’ll want to check in with what happens after a few days.” The benefit of this is that they will have to get out and about and do things for the first part of the day, rather than choosing to start the day on a screen.
Remind your child that there will be days of no devices because there are other plans. You don’t want to find that they refuse to join in because it is after 3.30 pm. Screens need to remain a second priority to real-life activity.
Your child may well negotiate for 3 pm but stick to your guns with 3.30 pm. The wanting to check-in means it is up for review.
Now you can remove a time limit off the phone/computer, however, I recommend keeping some limit on video games played on a PlayStation (unless a visitor is there or it is a special occasion). I would set that time limit as 2 hours to be generous.
For more help and support on tackling screen use with your kids, grab a copy of The Dip - a practical guide full of simple strategies and straightforward advice, and like The Dip Community on Facebook.
Dr Danielle Einstein is a clinical psychologist, researcher and author specialising in understanding the impact of devices on mental health in teenagers. She is an Adjunct Fellow at Macquarie University and an Honorary Associate with the University of Sydney. Danielle is the creator of The Dip - a practical guide to taking control of screen addiction and reconnecting your family.