8 Family Solutions to Better Regulate Screen Time

Available for Interviews: Dr. Pete Loper

Dr. Pete Loper, MD, MSEd, FAAP, is a triple board-certified physician in pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry. He is also a professor and executive coach and is dedicated to mental health and wellness advocacy.

What Dr. Loper could say on
Screen Time Effects and Regulation:

Recommended Screen Time Duration for Most Age Groups, Including Adults
    • The most consistent guidelines have been for children one year of age or younger, where the standard recommendation remains no screen time. Children between the ages of 2-4 according to the World Health Organization, or 2-5 according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, generally should have no more than one hour of screen time daily.
    • The absence of consensus regarding screen time duration for older children and adults is due to a so-called lack of data. Particularly in the context of the pandemic, screens have become even more ubiquitous, making it that much harder to study this issue.
    • However, consistent with our era of quantitative bias, where it’s not true unless you can prove it and big data is confounded with truth, the fear regarding screen time is that we are once again attempting to substitute data for common sense.

How Much Is Too Much?
    • Common sense dictates that the more time an individual spends locked on a screen, the less time they spend attending to, engaging with, or exploring the physical world around them. The most extreme example of this phenomenon is screen use while driving, which can have immediate and very dangerous consequences.
    • However, if you look at the other more indolent, cumulative consequences associated with excessive screen time (obesity, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, vision problems, violent behavior, compromised learning, compromised social-emotional development, etc.), they are all more indolent, downstream consequences of this same phenomenon, attending to a screen instead of real-time engagement, exploration, and adaptation mediated by the physical world around us.  
    • Any screen time that removes us from approach, exploration, and engagement in our physical world, and most importantly from meaningful interpersonal interactions real-time and face-to-face with other humans, is too much screen time.  
    • This can vary from person to person and is based on life circumstances, job obligations, and other demographic factors, so I believe the individual should be accountable for monitoring and limiting their screen time, and the screen time for their children.

8 Family Solutions to Better Regulate
Screen Time for Yourself and Your Kids

    1. Limit access to screens. The best way to regulate screen time for yourself and your kids is to remove screens from the home environment.
    2. Younger children should not have personal tablets or cell phones.
    3. For older children and adolescents. Set expectations about screen use and remain consistent in enforcing expectations
    4. Install monitoring apps such as “Bark” to monitor their communication, social media use, and the amount of time that they are spending on their screens.
    5. A “screen basket,” where everyone in the home places their screen devices during designated “no-screen times” can be very effective. 
    6. Eat dinners together as a family without screens present
    7. Do a family “screen detox.” Set a collective goal as a family to remove screens from the home environment for a set period of time. Start with a few days, and work up to a week or two.
    8. As a parent, be a role model. Put screens aside and create a family culture of face-to-face interactions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a very helpful resource to support families in designing a “Family Media Plan” to support the regulation of screen time in the household.


Interview: Dr. Pete Loper

Dr. Pete Loper began his undergraduate studies in English at Kenyon College prior to completing his premedical coursework and Bachelor of Arts at the University of South Carolina (U of SC).  He earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, and his Master of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.  Following medical school, Dr. Loper completed a residency in pediatrics. He then worked as a pediatrician in a private practice setting while completing a second residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry.  He has also completed the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Psychoanalytic Fellowship Program and the Teleos Leadership Institute’s Coach Development Program.

Dr. Loper has been featured in numerous academic publications and media outlets and it is through these channels that he can dedicate his time to being an advocate for mental health and wellness.

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

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