Consumer Alert: How to monitor your child’s screen time

If you have a teen or tween, chances are he or she has a phone. And with that phone come more responsibility for parents to make sure our kiddos are safe.

The first thing we as parents must do is monitor screen use. I just read a study published by the national institutes of health that showed there was no difference in the mental health of kids who had no screen use, and those who had one hour. But the study showed the more screen-time, the more likely a child was to have a short attention-span, poor emotion regulation, and more difficulty having friends.

“The most important things that I can think of is be present with them,” said Jason Komenski, sales manager for AT&T. “Sit down, play, watch and learn with them. Be engaged with them. You have an idea of what they’re looking into, what they’re interested in. And all the while you’re building that trust with them. Keep those lines of communication open.”

Here’s some other advice from the experts: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you limit the screen time of tweens and teens to no more than two hours a day. You can do that by making the bedroom a screen-free zone. Also, establish times of the day that are screen-free, like meal time, family time, reading and homework time – unless the homework requires computer use. And of course make sure to set up screen time limits on your child’s devices. Click here for step by step instruction for doing that on Android and Apple devices.

“Over half of 13 year olds have already seen something inappropriate on the internet, whether it was by accident or on purpose,” said Komenski. “But there are a few things we can do to limit that exposure.”

For example, your child’s android and iphone have parental controls. If your kiddo has an android phone, you can set up parental controls on google play to keep your kiddo from downloading inappropriate content and set up google family link to put filters on websites.

For apple devices you have the screen time option. You can also turn on browser filters like google safe search which blocks explicit content on all the devices your child uses.

Here’s why that’s so important. According to a study in Common Sense Media, kids 8 to 12 spent more than 4 and a half hours a day in front of a screen in 2015..That increased by almost 10 minutes by 2019. And by 2021, tweens were in front of a screen more than 5 and a half hours.

It’s even worse for teenagers. In 2015 teens were spending more than 6 and a half hours in front of a screen, seven hours and 22 minutes by 2019, and by 2021, a whopping 8 hours and 39 minutes. So we as parents must monitor what our kids are watching. “We obviously have the AT&T screen ready website which houses all the resources,” said

Komenski. “It’s got parental guides. It’s got user settings. It’s got knowledge on how to operate TikTok and all the other social media apps.”

It’s knowledge we as parent must have, because our children already do