As technology advances and changes, so do the issues that you and your ex may want to discuss during your divorce and possibly include in a parenting plan. Screen time, including televisions, computers, video games and smart phones, is one of these issues. There are numerous studies and opinions about the effects of screen time on children. While this blog will not get into the details of good vs. bad screen time, addressing some screen time “rules” in your parenting plan may be a good idea, particularly if you and your spouse have a difference of opinion on this issue. If you and your ex want to include some screen time restrictions in your parenting plan, consider the following:
- A daily time limit on screen time
- Screen time only after homework (or other extracurricular activities) completed
- No games or websites with violence
- List of appropriate and inappropriate websites and/or video games
Screen time restrictions will certainly depend on a child’s age and maturity level. If you choose to put restrictive language in your parenting plan, you will likely need to revisit it as the children get older.
It should be noted that, while some families may find it helpful to clearly lay out screen time rules in the parenting plan, others may not want their ex having a say on what goes on in their house. Some parents are ok with being in control of what goes on in their own house, and letting their ex do the same. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to make your own rules, so long as you respect the right of your ex to do the same (assuming the kids are not in danger, etc.) In addition, there may be parents who are so at odds over this issue that they cannot come up with screen time restrictions upon which they both agree. In that situation, unless you can convince a judge that the screen time is harming your child, it is best to get in the mindset of the parents above – you have full control in your house and your ex has full control in his/hers. And that’s not always such a bad thing!