Nashville Dads: How much screentime is too much?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dealing with technology is something prior generations of parents didn’t have to worry about, but screen time and social media are important topics for mothers and fathers today.

“We’re very happy to be out of the diaper changing phase, they can basically take care of themselves, now we’re just referees,” said father of three Ted Goldthorpe.

As kids get older, apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook as well as texting enter the equation.

“Well technology makes things easier because of communication, of course, but it’s harder because it’s a distraction. The communication and Facetime and when we’re out of time and we can Facetime each other, it’s a cheap substitute but it works,” Goldthorpe added.

Teen expert Dr. Mary Romano said you should monitor your child’s social media activity. Not by snooping behind the scenes, but by actively and openly “friending” them.

“So if they’re on Instagram and you want to friend them, say ‘Hey I don’t know how to use Instagram, show me what to do, you know this better than I do.’  and kind of let your teenager guide the conversation, by keeping that door open,” said Romano.

Successful teen development involves sleep. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said school-age children should get 10 hours of sleep each night.

“Having technology use should be in a public place. Your computer should be in a place where they’re using it in front of you. Their phone, after a certain point, should be in your hand. So the bedroom, along with your cell phone, is not appropriate. Come bedtime, the phone should be in your hand, charging, to be given back at a certain time in the morning,” advised Romano.

A 2015 study of 3,000 teens in New Jersey found 62 percent of kids use their phones after bedtime. Twenty-one percent wake up to answer a text and 66 percent of teens admitted that phone use impacted their sleep.

Dr. Romano said problems arise when moms and dads aren’t on the same page and teens are able to pit one parent against the other, whether the parents are married or divorced.

“At the end of the day, there are differences between men and women and dads may approach problems differently than moms do due to the inherent nature of male versus female. So I think that by tapping into dad’s strengths and appreciating where dads may not be able to approach a problem the same way mom does doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of the solution it just means we need to go about it differently,” said Romano.

Most problems are made worse when kids don’t feel comfortable coming to their parents with their issues.

“Use any opportunity you can to talk to your teenager. Teens don’t respond well to ‘Hey tell me about your day and what you did with your friends.’ So any sort of backdoor opening you can get, like ‘Hey I was reading an article about how teens think Facebook is lame, do you think Facebook is lame, too?’” added Romano.

When it comes to screen time, the American Academy of Pediatrics said no screen time at all for kids under 18 months, up to one hour a day is OK for kids from 18 months to 5 years old but only if a parent is present and actively engaging in the TV show. That is one hour less than originally suggested.