Psychologist offers parents screen time tips for kids

Psychologist offers parents screen time tips for kids

PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - Brian Hinnant has two young boys in the Petal School District. He said with his kids growing up in a digital age, there's no formula he uses to dictate when his kids can pick up their phones or games.

“But we do monitor their screen time,” Hinnant said.

Hinnant said he also uses his boys want for their smart devices as a means for discipline.

“If they do something wrong. OK, you can’t play on your phone today," Hinnant said.

He said that goes for rewards too.

“They have to read 20 minutes day," Hinnant said. “They say, ‘Aw, we have to read!’" I said, ‘Yeah, but every minute you read passed 20 minutes you can play that amount on your tablet.’"

He said he tries to create a balance, especially now that homework can be done at the click of a mouse instead of pencil to paper.

Christina Williams, a clinical psychologist at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, agreed. She said technology is increasing in kids lives and that’s not going to change.

“Their academic career is going to require it, their future jobs potentially are going to be tech oriented,” Williams said.

But she said creating equal time for school, play and downtime is a must. She said to do that, parents should ask the school some key questions.

“How much technology is being used? Why is it being used and what are the boundaries around it?” Williams said.

Williams said parents can set screen time boundaries and safe guards, and explain to kids what excessive use could mean.

“Excessive screen time can look a lot like what excessive substance use or dependence or really substance addiction looks like,” Williams warned.

Williams said parents can explain to their kids entertainment doesn’t always mean digital.

“Let’s have some time with books first, let’s go outside and play, let’s hang out with a friend,” Williams said.

She also said parents shouldn’t count themselves out. Williams said parents should role model a balanced relationship with technology.

“Letting your kids see that you don’t have the phone out at dinner, you’re constantly glued to your phone or iPad,” Williams said.

Williams said these tips can help parents ensure kids have healthy boundaries with screen time.

Williams added if you would like to know more about balancing technology for your kids, or if you think your child has a problem with excessive use of devices, Pine Grove offers a technology addiction group for adolescents. Call 1-888-574-HOPE.

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