Coalitions in our region that work to promote youth health, prevent youth substance use, and support families are collaborating so we can reach more people! One of our current collaborations focuses on supporting parents and caregivers about child and youth screen time, social media use, and related mental health concerns.
Thanks to our partners at the North Quabbin Community Coalition (their Facebook page); Northampton Prevention Coalition (their Facebook page); Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition (their Facebook page); SPIFFY Coalition (their Facebook page); The Communities That Care Coalition (CTC); and the South Hadley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition.
This page focuses on resources for parents and caregivers. It also has some great info for youth and educators that you may want to share.
Concerned about your child or teen’s amount of screen time?
1) Check out Children and Screens, the Institute of Digital Media and Child Development. They work to help children and youth live healthy lives in a digital world. Their website has a variety of tips and information for parents, caregivers, and other adults who care about young people.
2) Research-based 16 minute video Screen Time Effects On Children (including How To Create Screen Time Rules) by Pediatrician and mom Dr. Mona Amin, with a focus on young children, scientific research on screen time, and what you can do. (2021)
3) Organization: The Center for Humane Technology An independent nonprofit organization whose aim is “to drive a comprehensive shift toward humane technology by changing the way technologists think about their work and how they build products.” They also help people figure out how to be more engaged in their life offline, balance their relationship with technology, and make sure that technology use is in line with their values. Ever wonder how to:
– block notifications to reduce distractions?
– reduce the blue light on your phone for better sleep?
– block robocalls?
Check out their Take Control page for tips and apps to try!
4) Article: At Your Wits’ End With A Screen-Obsessed Kid? Read This. This article addresses the complexity of this issue. It focuses on how hard it can be to get kids and teens off screens and how common it is for parents to struggle with this issue. It also touches upon related emotional and mental health issues and includes tips to shift the dynamic in the home, including encouragement to work on the overall relationship, not just monitor and restrict use. Highlights a family with children ages 5, 11, and 14, so whether you are concerned about young children, tweens, or teenagers, this article will probably have something relevant for you!
Media Literacy Resources for Parents & Caregivers
Intro video on media literacy and five key questions to ask when watching media, with a focus on the importance of media literacy for children and youth:
1) National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE)’s Parents’ Guide to Media Literacy, is available in English, Spanish, and Greek. The guide offers lots of practical tips for talking with children and teens about advertising, how to spot fake news, and other skills for how to analyze media.
2) The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan, education nonprofit, has resources for youth, educators and the adult community members to learn and share skills needed for news literacy. Their site is full of engaging ways to learn.
3) Media Literacy Now uses research and data to inform and drive policy change at local, state, and national levels in the U.S. to ensure all K-12 students are taught media literacy so that they become confident and competent media consumers and creators.
General Screen Time Info & Things to Consider
1) Article: From 1st Phones To Online Porn: Answers To Your Screen Time Questions. 4 questions with answers about when to get a child a first phone (and how to ease into it), how to help children handle cyberbullying, encouragement to talk with children about online porn and how to balance homework and screen time. Also has a link to a radio story if you prefer to listen instead of read!
2) Online Resource: You may have heard about the “Wait until 8th” movement. Some families find it very useful to wait until 8th grade or a similar age – and we know it’s a personal decision. You will know what is right for your family, based on your family’s needs and your kids. This site has some interesting info that you might find useful to consider.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and Common Sense Media both have fillable templates you can use to create your own family’s media plan. By creating a Family Media Plan, families can think about their media use and create goals and rules that are in line with their values. Creating the plan with your family lets your teens be involved in creating the rules and gives them ownership and empowerment as well.
Family Media Plan from American Academy of Pediatrics
Family media agreement from Common Sense Media
Hand-Picked Entertainment for a Variety of Age Ranges
Common Sense Media has hand-picked lists for quality entertainment and tech. E.g. Reviews for shows and movies, Reference and Research Apps and Websites, Best Apps for Kids by age ranges, etc. You can also browse trending parenting articles and videos, or find advice by age range.
Resources for Communicating with your Kids and Supporting Their Mental Health
1) Book: How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, and Other Challenges of Childhood (The How To Talk Series) by Joanna Faber, Julie King. This book was recommended by colleagues and parents who say the book is more empathetic to the child’s perspective than the title may seem!
3) The Screenagers Movie Blog has several posts on mental health, most of which connect in some way to screen time or technology.
4) Online Organization: Families for Depression Awareness has online resources and offers webinars on youth and adult mental health (not only depression).
5) Videos by Dr. Clifford Sussman, Child Psychiatrist and (Video) Gamer. He personally enjoys video games and also sees the possibility for addiction among his patients. We haven’t watched all the videos, but the couple that we saw had well-informed, accessible advice for parents and caregivers.
Internet Safety Resources
1) Online (and print) Guide: Netcetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online. With sections for talking with kids, tweens, and teens.
2) Youth and Online Polarization and Radicalization: FAQ and Tips for Parents is a page on the website for Children and Screens that has specific info about this concerning trend and what parents and caregivers can do.
3) Online safety education program: Netsmartz provides age-appropriate videos and activities “to help teach children be safer online with the goal of helping children to become more aware of potential online risks and empowering them to help prevent victimization by making safer choices on- and offline.”
4) Organization: Protect Young Eyes has resources to protect kids from inappropriate content online. They have advice on parental controls, an app, and they speak in schools and churches. Some of their messages are faith-based.
5) Parental Controls: While we recommend prioritizing talking with kids, being aware of what they are doing online, and teaching them skills for online safety, some parents also find parental controls useful.
Parental Controls for every digital device from Protect Young Eyes
Parental controls for specific apps, devices, and gaming consoles from Common Sense Media
6) Phones designed for Kids – without internet access: In the last few years, several companies have started offering phones designed for kids and teens that do not have access to the internet and include additional safety features. We don’t have a favorite, but here are a few possibilities to check out:
- Gabb Wireless: https://gabbwireless.com/
- Pinwheel: https://www.pinwheel.com/
- WisePhone: https://techless.com/
- Troomi: https://troomi.com/