9 Investigates: The rules to help manage your child's screen time

9 Investigates: The rules to help manage your child's screen time

Tablets, video games, cell phones -- managing a child's screen time can be a battle.

For the Khalil kids, free time often means screen time.

Rachel Khalil told Channel 9 her 8-year-old and 4-year-old sons love watching videos on their iPad.

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"First thing they grab is their iPad, and we actually have them on the chargers in our bedroom," she said.

Khalil works from home and said life gets so busy that trying to limit screen time is an ongoing challenge.

"I’ve tried turning them off before, but I’m in the kitchen making lunches or I’m doing breakfast and my husband is trying to get out of the house and I’m trying to get them dressed, so it’s almost a distraction for them, ‘eat your breakfast, here’s your iPad,’" she said.

Beth Greenawalt is a certified parent coach.

She said the computer industry creates products intended to push kids to keep playing. It's called persuasive design.

“So it’s not as easy as asking your child to stop, you know, playing outside and come in,” Greenawalt said. “There’s a whole other level of connectiveness these computers are asking you to engage in that make it much more difficult for you to turn off.”

But Greenawalt said parents can make technology work for them rather than against them.

“There are so many resources out there, cable provider, phone provider, Apple screen time balance app where you can set the time when your child is allowed to be on these particular devices, the amount of time so it stops that nagging and when it's turned off, it's turned off,” she said.

Greenawalt recommends three basic rules:

  • No screens in the morning
  • No screens an hour before bed
  • Be a good role model and put your phone away too

“No screens at dinner table, everyone holds that boundary,” Greenawalt said. “It doesn’t work for you to say, ‘Do as I say not as I do.’”

The American Academy of Pediatrics' offers some guidelines to help parents as well. Read the full list here.