Screen overload: How to begin easing your child back to a structured routine with devices

Connecticut Families

OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) — “It’s not going to be easy, this transition back,” said Dr. Alicia Farrell, a cognitive psychologist based in Old Saybrook. “Even though it feels like it’s going to be really positive, it’s really going to be challenging.”

Specifically, she believes breaking our kids’ reliance on devices will be difficult as we slowly inch towards a semblance of normalcy.

They’ve been using them for school and socializing for almost a year now.

“They’re going to be resistant right now because it’s all they have,” she explained. “If you’re trying to take something away from them that is really their only source of connection to the outside world, they’re going to fight you on it.”

“It’s really important that we start now because I’m expecting an epic withdrawal from screens,” she continued.

Farrell suggested starting with conversations about family values.

“Make the connection with your children that these conversations are meant to set the stage for some changes to come,” she said, adding that parents should expect feedback. “You’re going to talk with them and find out how they feel.”

Screen time was a concern prior to the pandemic causing changes in brain and socio-emotional development. Some kids even become addicted.

Farrell suggested no screen time for toddlers two years and younger, about an hour a day for elementary school age and two to three hours a day, outside of academics, for older children.

“No screens in the bedroom until ideally sophomore or junior year when you really need to let go with a lot of that in that point in time,” she said.

Over the last few weeks, Farrell has been hosting webinars to help parents through this difficult time. The conversations are resonating. More than 2,000 moms and dads have registered.

“Work on saying ‘no’ in relation to screen time when you can. Let your kids get bored and frustrated then they’ll figure things out for themselves.”.

Tune in to a live webinar Wednesday night Farrell about raising children with grit and resilience. Or, click here to watch a past session about screen time.

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