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Beyond Screen Time Limits

Get insights, tips and ideas straight from clinical psychologist, Dr. Demi Rhine

5 Healthy Screen Time Tips for Pre-teens

Sep 16, 2020

“My kids’ screen use is out of control. They’re online for school and then play games in between class sessions. I just realized my 11-year-old has figured out how to chat with friends on some messaging program I didn’t even know his Chromebook had, and now he is messaging friends throughout the day. I feel bad taking this away since he can’t see his friends, but between messaging, games, and school, he’s on his screen all day. What do we do?”

-Lila W

Parents all over the country are asking this very question. How do we possibly keep screen time healthy for our pre-teens & teens now that their school and social lives occur online?  

There is an answer.  

This is the first of three blogs that will collectively give parents a roadmap for screen time with pre-teens during remote learning. Start here, and then read more over the next two weeks.  And P.S. - if you manage screen time this way, your child will be learning critical skills for self-regulation of screen time. It’s a win-win! 

Separate Entertainment/Social Screen Time from Academic Screen Time

All screen time is not created equal. It’s not the same to complete math assignments as it is to play Roblox with a group of friends. The first step is to separate academic screen time from social/entertainment screen time in your own mind. This step begins to clarify a path for you and your pre-teen - rather than being overwhelmed by the problem.  

Once you have separated screen time into these two categories, create a daily schedule with your child.  Keep these tips in mind:  

Tip #1: Create a consistent time for social/entertainment screen time.

Academic screen time is not movable, but have your pre-teen weigh-in on timing for social/entertainment screen time.  Encourage them to coordinate with friends.  Every family will be less stressed if screen time is coordinated among friends!  

Tip #2: Schedule their social/entertainment screen time at the end of the day.

I highly recommend that you keep one block of social/entertainment screen time for the end of the day. This gives your pre-teen something to look forward to, and incentive to complete other tasks such as homework, chores, screen-free activities, etc.  

Tip #3: Have non-screen time blocks of time scheduled in. 

Make screen-free blocks of time long enough for your pre-teen to truly engage in other activities. 

Here is a sample schedule from one Beyond Limits family with a 12 yo daughter:

7:30 - 8:30 - Get up, get ready, eat breakfast

8:30 - 2:30 - Academic Screen Time

2:30 - 4:30 - Screen-Free: hobbies, exercise, unstructured boredom/playtime

4:30 - 5:30 - Social/entertainment screen time

5:30 - 7:30 - Screen-Free: chores, dinner, homework

7:30 - 8:30 - Social/entertainment screen time

8:30 - 9:30 - Screen-Free: get ready for bed, reading, hang with parents

9:30 bedtime 

Tip #4: Stay close by. 

Have your pre-teen dock their devices near you for their screen-free time.  This way they will not struggle with the temptation to hop back on, and can better learn the art of unhooking.  When they gain competency, they can work up to keeping their devices during screen-free blocks of time.

Tip #5: Stick to the schedule.

Most pre-teens will want to message friends before school and also right before bed. It can be difficult for pre-teens to prepare for school or to wind down for bed if they have access to messaging friends. Hold off on letting them message friends at these transition times until they can maintain healthy routines without their phones.  Then let them try to add friend chats to these times of days when they are ready. 

For most families, this type of schedule will be a start, but not enough on its own.  Many pre-teens have had much freer access to screens over the last several months, so they may not exactly welcome this scheduling change. If this is your situation, stay tuned for next week’s blog where I will discuss how to get pre-teens on board with this type of screen time plan.

Sign up for our newsletter to get healthy screen time insights and tips from clinical psychologist, Dr. Demi Rhine.  

About Beyond Limits Academy

Beyond Limits is a simple step-by-step online program that teaches parents how to prepare their children for a lifetime of safe and healthy technology use. Going beyond just screen time limits, our skills-based approach provides a clear roadmap that reduces conflict and sets children up to manage their own tech use independently and responsibly. In an increasingly digital world, preparing our children to use technology wisely is no longer an option . . . it's a necessity.


End the constant screen time battles.  Join the movement here.

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5 Tips for Taming Screen Time Tantrums

Jul 23, 2020

“Nooooo. That’s not fair. I want to keep playing my game!!!” Does that sound familiar? At some point, most of our children have thrown a tantrum when told that their screen time is up. With the increase in screen time during COVID, more children are having difficulty logging off. So what do you do? Keep reading to learn 5 key tips for dealing with screen time tantrums.

Tip #1: Connect with your child

The first thing parents need to do is stay connected with their children. Logging off brings up big feelings for children, and their resistance to doing so brings up big feelings for parents! This can easily turn into a pattern of screen time conflict.  An easy mindset shift can prevent this from happening.  Normally parents approach screen time from a mindset of  “Screen time is terrible, get off now!” Instead, try saying “I absolutely understand why it’s so hard to get off of devices. They are built to hook your attention and keep you wanting more. I get it - I have a hard time logging off too sometimes. Let’s figure out how we can help make it easier.” Making this mindset shift lets your child know that it’s not their fault that it’s hard to unhook.  It is hard for everyone including you, and that you are in this together. By connecting with your child you are opening the door to a discussion that can lead to teaching your child the art of logging off their screen time.  You cannot influence your child if you are not connected with them.

Tip #2: Set a screen time routine

Children do better when they have a routine and know what to expect and when. It’s no different with screen time. Schedule screen time at the same time and duration every day. For example, my children do an hour of educational screen time from 10-11 am.  Then at 4 pm, they can use the family iPad for an hour of any age-appropriate content that they choose. A screen time routine reduces the constant, “Can I have my screen time now?” and makes it easier for children to engage in other activities as they know exactly when and how much screen time they will get.  

Tip #3: Pre-plan for log off time  

Make sure you and your child have come up with a plan in advance for how to help them log off. Talk your child through what they will do to wind down and shut down and what the plan is if they find it hard to unhook from their device. Perhaps you help set a timer that gives them 5 minutes to start to wrap up what they are doing online. Perhaps you can agree together on an enjoyable activity they can do after logging off, to make the unhooking process easier.  For some children, a way to celebrate their log off successes may help - a sticker chart, a special treat or a hug and tickle from a parent.  When the log off time comes along, make sure to be there to support their follow through on the plan.  Remember that logging off is difficult for all of us, so stay connected as they try to enact the plan you made together.   Having a plan makes it easier to anticipate and overcome difficulties when they arise. 

Tip #4: When all else fails...remove & rebuild

 If the first 3 tips aren’t working for your child, this is a sign that they are “in over their heads” with screen time.  They either can’t unhook or they aren’t (yet) willing to try.  Whichever the case, a screen time break will help.  Tell them that screen time is only available to children who can unhook enough to log off and that they will need to take a break from screen time until they seem ready to try again. Give your child a few days to unhook entirely (or just allow school-related tasks, if they’re back in school) and when you think they are ready, start again with a small amount of screen time to continue working on unhooking.  When they can log off without throwing a tantrum, slowly give them a bit more time until you reach their screen time limit.  This strategy will motivate your child to work on unhooking and allows you to see how much screen time your child can handle successfully. 

Tip #5: Don’t give up. You can do this.

Teach your child that tantrums won’t work. Throwing a tantrum should not result in getting screen time. Children should only be allowed more screen time when they have shown that they are able to responsibly manage it. In this case, a tantrum demonstrates the opposite - that they are not ready for the screen time that they have been given. This lesson may take a while to sink in but don’t give up, you’ll get there. 

This process is critical to the overall goal of equipping your child with the skills and habits needed for healthy tech use.  Logging off is hard for many adults so try to be patient with your child who hasn’t developed all of the cognitive skills to self-regulate their tech use! Teaching a child the art of unhooking is giving them a gift that will last a lifetime.  

Sign up for our newsletter (click the 'sign up' button on this page) to get healthy screen time insights and tips from clinical psychologist, Dr. Demi Rhine.  

About Beyond Limits Academy

Beyond Limits is a simple step-by-step online program that teaches parents how to prepare their children for a lifetime of safe and healthy technology use. Going beyond just screen time limits, our skills-based approach provides a clear roadmap that reduces conflict and sets children up to manage their own tech use independently and responsibly. In an increasingly digital world, preparing our children to use technology wisely is no longer an option . . . it's a necessity.


End the constant screen time battles.  Join the movement here.

Continue Reading...
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