How to Create an Honest Conversation About Screen Time

Tracy Bennett

Teaching kids what they need to know to be best prepared for Internet safety, isn’t an easy task for parents. To start with, parents need to form that super-charged connection with their kids so that they have BIG influence. One way to connect AND influence, is to sprinkle hot tech topics into everyday conversation. Teach them the assertiveness and problem-solving skills during your chats.

Wondering how to get them jazzed and engaged? Here are some quick tips on how to get the conversation started.

Create an open, honest, and positive family environment.

If your kids have a different opinion than yours, have a sense of humor and go with it. Don’t scold or shame them. Encourage them to try out different perspectives.

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Play HIGH-LOW.

Each person shares the HIGH part of their day, and the LOW part of the day. This is a tried-and-true conversation starter!

Start young but recognize it’s never too late to get started.

Consider the age of your child and simplify your language accordingly, but don’t be afraid to talk to little ones about hot topics. Sharing your values, opinions, and problem-solving style is an awesome opportunity to connect and teach.

Get out there and get tech-savvy.

Before your child gets a social media app, test it out first so you know the in’s and out’s. Be eager to let them teach you.

Seek them out to share funny memes and videos.This will quickly become a fun two-way street, an awesome opportunity to engage and stay engaged!

Initiate the conversation with the intention to listen.

Don’t lecture, shame, or threaten. If you start with “kids these days . . . ” you’re headed in the wrong direction. Connect, rather draw lines between you.

Inform them about hot topics.

Get in the habit of collecting current event “stories” online, or in news media.

Structure conversations about complex situations as a series of legitimate options.

Stress that there is rarely one “right” way to respond and that you celebrate mistakes and failures. That’s how we all learn.

Recognize that, in fact, “everybody” IS doing it even if you won’t let them.

Have empathy for their dilemma but still stay firm.

Praise.

Look for demonstrations of good moral reasoning, assertiveness, and leadership, and be generous with worthy compliments.

Don’t scare them but share that people are often inappropriate and unsafe to talk to online.

Role-play how to assertively manage these situations. For example, teach them how flattery is used as a manipulation technique.

Can’t figure out how to bring up an uncomfortable topic?

Let your kids “overhear” a conversation with your partner at dinnertime. Yes, the walls do have ears.

Be patient.

Be prepared to have many small conversations over a period of time, rather than one big one.

And there you have it! Some actionable, easy ideas for how to be awesome, even at the end of the day when you feel like an overworked, bedraggled turnip!


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How to Create an Honest Conversation About Screen Time With Your Kids


This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Tracy is a grateful mother of three feisty kids, a psychologist, and a adjunct faculty at CSUCI. Her passion is soaking in the beautiful chaos of her busy home and helping GetKidsInternetSafe (because she hears the inside stories why we need it)!