Parents Trying to Limit Kids' Screen Time Should Start With Their Own

The majority of parents spend more than nine hours a day looking at a screen (and that's not counting work hours!)—are you one of them?

family on smartphones
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Quick—how many hours a day do you think you spend staring a screen. Two? Maybe three? Five?

Try somewhere around NINE. That's right—according to a new survey from Common Sense Media, while most parents think they are modeling healthy screen time behavior for their kids, they're actually glued to their smart phones, tablets, and TVs for more than nine hours a day. And get this: Only about 90 minutes of that time was spent on work.


"This is just a shocking study, in my opinion," Common Sense founder James Steyer told NBC News. "It's a wake-up call to every parent out there about how to role model this kind of behavior for our kids—how to set healthy balances. How can you be a good role model for your kids if you yourself don't find the appropriate balance in terms of media and tech use in your own life?"

Good question. Especially considering the majority of parents surveryed—78 percent!—thought they were already modeling good screen time behavior, with 78 percent reporting that mobile devices were not allowed during family meals, and 63 percent nixing the devices at bedtime

Here's how the parental screen time use breaks down, according to the survey:

  • African-American parents spend about an hour and a half more with personal screen media than Hispanic parents, who spend about two and a half hours more with personal screen media than white parents.
  • Parents from lower-income households spend more time with personal screen media than middle-income parents,who spend more time than higher-income parents.
  • Parents with a high school degree or less spend the most time with personal screen media, as compared with parents with at least some college, who spend more time than parents with an undergraduate degree or higher.

Clearly, when it comes to instilling healthy screen time habits in our kids, we need to first be aware of our own habits.

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"Children are great mimics, which is why it is so important that parents introduce real boundaries and balance early on," explained Steyer via statement. "Media can add a lot of value to relationships, education, and development, and parents clearly see the benefits, but if [parents] are concerned about too much media in their kids' lives, it might be time to reassess their own behavior so that they can truly set the example they want for their kids."

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter

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