Feel like your screen time may be eating into family time? Here are tips for setting screen time limits.
Make family time a no-screen time
Mealtime and family gatherings should be screen-free. Gaya Dowling, Ph.D., NIH's director of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study, says her kids might be glued to their phones at other times, but not at dinner. A no-screens-at-meals rule encourages everyone to make eye contact—instead of looking down at their phone—and to actually talk to each other.
Keep the bedroom screen-free
Don't put a TV or computer in your child's bedroom—it can disrupt sleep, increase screen usage, and isolate kids from the rest of the family.
Set a good example
Parents should be a good role model and set limits on their own screen time. "Parental screen usage is a factor that comes up a lot" when looking at the effects of children's screen use, says ABCD researcher Florence Breslin.
Get kids involved in other activities
"Emphasize physical activity. It's extremely helpful and preventive for mental health problems," says Martin Paulus, M.D., who oversees the ABCD study at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The study is also looking at the effects of music and arts participation.