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If you and your ex disagree about your child’s screen usage

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | Child Custody

Disagreements about children’s screen usage are common among co-parents. And, given the increasing presence of digital devices in children’s lives from school-mandated participation in certain platforms to how social interactions are evolving, this source of tension is likely to become increasingly complex over time. 

Given how important informed regulation of devices and screen usage is for a child’s health and well-being, co-parents need to be on the same page when it comes to this issue whenever possible. Managing related disagreements effectively requires clear communication, compromise, shared expectations and sometimes, external guidance. 

Research, discuss and set expectations

You and your co-parent should both educate yourselves on the current guidelines and research regarding children’s screen time. Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics provide age-appropriate recommendations that can serve as a basis for discussions. Understanding the potential impacts of screen time on children’s health, development and well-being can help both parents make informed decisions.

Once you understand the kinds of issues that should inform your discussions, it’s time to start talking. Discuss your concerns, listen to each other’s perspectives and try to understand the reasons behind each parent’s views on screen time. This discussion should be calm and focused on the child’s best interests. 

After discussing your views and educating yourselves, work together to develop a unified screen time plan that you both can agree on. This plan should outline specific guidelines for screen usage, such as the amount of time allowed per day, the types of content that are acceptable and rules for screen use during meals, homework time, and bedtime. Having a consistent plan in both households can help provide structure and stability for your child. Keep in mind, if you employ a parallel parenting approach during each parent’s time, your shared expectations may be more bare-bones than they might be if you were co-parenting. 

Utilizing resources to your advantage

There are many tools and apps available that can help manage and monitor children’s screen time. These tools can set limits, filter content and provide usage reports. By using these tools, both parents can ensure that the agreed-upon rules are being followed, even when your child is not with them. This can help maintain consistency and help to prevent conflicts about whether the rules are being enforced.

Much of this guidance is “easier said than done.” As such, if you and your co-parent can’t reach a mutually agreeable resolution to your disagreement, don’t hesitate to seek personalized legal guidance and support.