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3 Steps to Managing Screen Time During School Holidays

Updated: Feb 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.

  1. If and when your child asks you to remove their screen time limits, tell them this is not an option as more research is coming out to show the cumulative effects of screentime on their ability to function - their memory, the way they act and their ability to calm themselves down.

  2. Come back to them when you are doing something else pleasant. “You know, I thought about that request and decided that I am happy for you to have more screentime as long as it is after 3.30 pm each day, and you have included exercise in your day. I also need to see you leave your screen every 45 minutes to spend an hour off it. This means you will still be looking after your muscles (making sure they don't get sore, noticing if you are hungry and getting yourself some food) and also you will be a pleasant member of our house. I expect you to help with chores we have agreed on if you want this level of screen access." Then 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.

  3. 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.

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. Danielle is the creator of The Dip - a practical guide to taking control of screen addiction and reconnecting your family.


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