This topic is a quagmire………..!!!!

The first thing I’ll say is that every family has their own opinion towards technology and screen time and you should do what feels right for you.

But, for those that are still struggling to work this out, I’m going to address (very gently!) a few key and frequent questions that I get asked from my clients:

  1. Is screen time good or bad?
  2. What tips have you got for managing screen time generally?
  3. What do I do to stop the meltdowns that ensure when screen time is over?


Is screen time good or bad?

Screen time is a fact of life – for children AND parents. I don’t believe it’s about eliminating screen time entirely but rather fostering a mindful and balanced approach that aligns with your family’s values and priorities.

Understand that not all screen time is created equal. Select age-appropriate, educational content that aligns with your family values. Many platforms offer interactive and educational games/programmes that can engage young minds positively.

But also, don’t rubbish what you don’t know:

Take video games, for example. Sure, they might seem like mindless fun, but they actually offer a host of benefits. From developing executive functioning to improving attention and memory, some video games can be surprisingly beneficial for young people.

Then there’s certain TV content, like moralistic stories, which can teach valuable lessons in a subtle way.  And can teach, importantly, humour (Hey Duggee is good for adults, too!)

And what about YouTube? It’s often dismissed as a source of mindless content, but could there be more to it? Maybe watching someone play Minecraft isn’t as pointless as it seems – it could actually teach valuable skills and inspire creativity. I don’t want to watch it but I want to understand why my kids do.

So, my motto is, before you dismiss your kids’ content, try and engage instead with: Show me, Tell me, Teach me…..

Managing screen time:
  • Finding the right balance for screen time is crucial. Agree a schedule that designates specific times for educational screen activities, creative play, and outdoor play. Think about how you can help your child(ren) to integrate screen time with other things so that screen time is just a part of what they do to entertain themselves.
  • Establish areas in your home where screens are off-limits. This could include the dinner table, bedrooms, or during family activities. Having designated tech-free zones fosters quality family time and promotes better sleep, especially if screens are avoided before bedtime.
  • Children model their behaviour on us. You can showcase responsible tech use by setting your own screen time limits and prioritising face-to-face interactions.
  • And finally, the best way to manage screen time is to not control it too much.


Huh? I know that sounds contradictory but the less we try and control our kids’ screen time,  the more we help kids self-regulate and this will be valuable as they grow older.

Try it and see what happens…..I think you’ll be surprised *

Instead, why not involve yourself in their digital world?

By engaging with them – whether it’s through watching, discussing, or even playing together – we can help them learn and grow in a positive way.


So what about the chaos that ensues when it’s time to come off a screen, then?

Think equity over equality 

When you ask your child(ren) to come off screens – you need to work out together what it is they need in order to do that?

Start by setting clear expectations and then listening to your child’s needs.

Rather than imposing strict rules, try collaborating with them to find a solution that works for everyone.

For example, if I’m serving dinner in 30 mins – I’d say, “I’d like you to be off the screen by then – what can we do to make that happen? Do you need to finish a level/ Do you need to watch the end of an episode?”

(Or it might be that they need something to move onto that they really love doing, like playing with you or going to see the fish at the garden centre (my youngest’s favourite!).  

You are giving them more control and choices which will help them to feel more capable and competent to come away from the screen. This will stop them from ‘trying to win’ and being defiant.

So, it’s not necessarily about the time, that 30 minutes, it’s about combining setting expectations with meeting their needs. 

If the episode lasts 35 minutes, then be flexible and say “OK, I understand, I’ll let you finish it and we can eat 5 minutes later”.

Showing flexibility is important, too – remember we want to role model wherever we can!

As long as you state expectations, understand any problems to meeting that expectation, listen, problem solve together, and make an agreement, the chance of conflict and the resulting meltdown is drastically reduced.

It’s all about finding that balance between control and freedom – and ultimately, helping our kids become responsible digital citizens in today’s tech-driven world.

For more strategies like this and to gain a deeper understanding of challenging behaviour or to discuss any of your own parenthood challenges, get in touch here.

*and if you’re not, then I’d love to hear about it.