Tip #7: Limit your own screen time

Take a break from your smartphone and other screens during periods of the day to give your child your uninterrupted attention.

True Story: Adina’s 2-year-old daughter, Shana, never got much screen time. But Adina realized that cutting back on her own screen time would greatly benefit her daughter and their relationship. The adults in the family started limiting their use of smartphones and other screens in Shana’s presence so they could focus fully on interacting with her and with each other.

Outcome: Adina noticed that reducing her own screen time improves her child’s behavior and play—especially in the evening hours. Having her mom’s full attention at night when Shana is tired really helps them interact more successfully and keeps things calmer.

Adina says: “My daughter is 2. Before, when I was distracted by my phone, she would get cranky and frustrated when I wouldn’t focus on what she was trying to tell me or ask me. It resulted in unwanted behavior and stressful interactions. But now that I’m paying full attention to her, we avoid that. We focus on each other and have a stronger bond now.”

Did you know? Research shows that mothers have higher quality communication with their children when doing non-screen activities together, like reading and playing with toys.1 Research also finds that kids learn screen-time habits from their parents and caregivers.2 

 

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1. Nathanson, A. I. & Rasmussen, E. E. (2011). TV viewing compared to book reading and toy playing reduces responsive maternal communication with toddlers and preschoolers. Human Communication Research, 37(4), 465-487.
2. Bleakley, A., Jordan, A.B., & Hennessy, M. (2013). The relationship between parents’ and children’s television viewing. Pediatrics, 132(2), e364-e371.