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Ask the Pediatrician: How can parents set safe and healthy media limits?

Roslyn Gerwin, DO, and Suzy Tomopoulos, MD, FAAP, American Academy of Pediatrics on

Published in Health & Fitness

As a parent, you can talk with your child about media use, setting healthy limits and being responsible citizens online. But how can you reinforce healthy digital habits when they're not with you? Parental media controls can be a great option to help keep children's media time happy and safe.

As a parent, you should always feel comfortable taking steps to ensure your kids' media use is safe and appropriate. In fact, all families should have conversations about healthy media limits.

Parental controls are important teaching points for kids to learn how to manage their online experiences. Remember, it's not just about fixing a problem. These talks can be helpful even if screen time isn't an issue.

Signs of problematic media use in children and teens may include:

Your child becomes angry or irritable when they don't have access to media.

Their media use is affecting their grades or participation in family activities.

 

Media use interferes with your child getting enough sleep and exercise.

It is your child's only enjoyed activity or conversation topic.

There are many resources with information about the most popular video games and social media platforms. Many include feedback from other parents and kids, along with discussions about the features, benefits and drawbacks of controls. Many also offer clear, user-friendly instructions. You can find examples at these websites: Common Sense Media, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, Google Family Link and Apple Parental Controls.

There are parental controls for all devices, including video game consoles, smartphones, tablets and sometimes even desktop computers.

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