Screens aren't all bad, but don't be fooled, real life almost always provides superior neurological growth. Here are some tips I give to parents, by age of your child:
For all ages: Screentime =time your child spends in front of any screen like a phone, videogame, computer or tv.
Watch TV together. Please resist putting a television in your child's room, even as a teenager. It not only opens the door for commercial brainwashing, stereotyping, and limitations of identity, but also distances you from your child. Watch television shows as a family. If your child wants to watch something on their computer of phone, watch it with them. You can use the show as a shared interest and it helps you understand what they're getting influenced by.
No Screentime at least an hour before bed. That goes for you, too, mom and dad. The light from your smart phone disturbs your body's natural sleep cycle.
No phones at the dinner table, please! This is mostly for us, the parents.
Under Age 5: Only if you are seriously in need of a distraction for your child (examples include you having a meltdown, needing to get immunizations, having a CAT scan and needing to be perfectly still). Otherwise, no screens, please. 0-5 is the time in your child's life when the brain is at it's peak and growing the most. Awake time that is less interactive (screens) provides less neurological growth.
If you must get your elementary school age child a phone, please get them a flip phone so they can't browse the web. Kids often hack parental controls on smart phones and end up seeing things they can't unsee.
Don't let your child browse YouTube alone. If they do browse it, watch them closely. Even innocent videos can have something completely inappropriate in them. I met with a parent recently who shared that her 3rd grader was watching Peppa The Pig shows on YouTube and in the middle of the show the YouTube video had a decapitated person. The child is still not sleeping without nightmares.
Make school days tech-free days.
Let your child 'be bored.' Without tv, video games, or phones creativity can emerge!
When in the car, make that a time for family conversation. Don't make phone calls or have other phone conversations with me in the car.
Talk with your child about appropriate online conduct. They may be exposed to things you don't want me to unless you tell me how to be safe online.
Protect your child from violence and adult references on movies, tv, websites and video games they watch and play.
Middle School (13-14/15):
Limit the amount of screentime per day to less than 2 hours on school days.
Monitor everything they see (yes, still). As Game of Thrones proves, violence and porn-like sex can creep up on you at any time).
Don't let them use my phone as an alarm clock.
Don't text your child during the day at school, it's distracting.
High School: (14 and up):
At this age, everyone in the family should have the same screentime rules. As a parent of a high schooler, you employ the same rules around computers, phones tv and videogames that you give for yourself. Essential habits such as not having the phone in the bedroom, not falling asleep right before looking at a phone or computer, and limiting the amount of screentime per day )and keeping track of it) will help your teen learn essential life skills around regulating addictive temptations.
Limit the amount of screentime per day at less than 2 hours.