Creating Screen Time Guidelines Through a Family Media Plan

If you are concerned about your child’s screen time use, you are not alone. In fact, 46% of Canadian parents reported being concerned about the amount of screen time their child accesses,

B.A., M.Ed.
Registered Provisional Psychologist at the school district level with experience in psycho-educational assessments and school-based intervention.

B.Sc, M.Sc.
Registered Provisional Psychologist who has worked at the school district level since 2018.

If you are concerned about your child’s screen time use, you are not alone. In fact, 46% of Canadian parents reported being concerned about the amount of screen time their child accesses, and 23% are concerned about the content their child is exposed to (Korzinski, 2019). Monitoring your child’s digital media use can feel frustrating and can be hard to manage, but we are here to help. In our last blog post, we briefly presented families with some practical tips on managing screen time. Here, we help you break down the steps in creating a family media plan.  

Creating a Family Media Plan 

Recommended by the Canadian Pediatrics’s Society, a family media plan is an effective, collaborative approach to help set boundaries surrounding media use in your household. 

Step 1: Collaborate with your child 

Prior to implementing any new schedule or routine in your home, have a family meeting to discuss what your intention is, and what rules you would like to enforce. Allowing your child to collaborate and share their opinions will be helpful in ensuring the rules are followed.

Step 2: Talk to Your Child About the Benefits and Risks of Screen Use. 

Digital devices are an effective way for children to connect with their family and friends and engage in positive learning experiences. It’s important to teach them about safe and informed online behaviour. Refer to the following link for a free digital literacy program to teach online safety: Digital Literacy Program  

Step 3: You are ready to create your family media plan! 

Using the following template (Family Media Plan) you and your child will review a variety of topics covering media safety, what spaces in the house will be “screen-free” zones, where phones are kept at night, and what kind of screen use is allowed. Remember, depending on your child’s age and needs, their media plan will look different. As well, it’s important to revisit and revise your plan when necessary. Here is an example of a completed plan: 

Additional Tips for Limiting Screen Time 

Use a Basket to Keep Electronics away from Screen-Free Zones: 

Imagine the following situation: 

#DeviceFreeDinner – Basket Video

One way to combat this challenge is to put all electronics in a basket (on silent) during meals. This can allow everyone to talk about their day, anything they have learned, and spend quality time as a family together. 

Set a Schedule 

Once you create a media plan, setting a schedule for when children are able to access elec 

Invent a List of Activities 

Keep mobile devices and video-game consoles out of plain sight when not in use.  

The Secret Ingredients to Making Plans Work 

Consistency: Being consistent is necessary to see progress and results in limiting screen use in your household. Don’t be surprised if there are a few arguments along the way when the rules have shifted and don’t give up. This is called an “extinction burst” and can happen when we shift our expectations with children.  

Role-Modeling: Managing your own screen use to model what can be accomplished off-screen is an excellent way to get children on board with limiting screen use.  

Stay tuned for our next article on monitoring content your children are viewing! 

Korzinski, D (2019). Digital Dopamine: Half of Canadian parents concerned their child spends too much time on their devices. Angus Reid Intitute