3 tips to set screen time boundaries from parenting experts Dr Becky Kennedy and Professor Emily Oster - and #1 is an important reminder

Know your job, plan your boundaries and have a script...

A young boy sat on a sofa using a tablet while wearing headphones
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Struggling to set screen time boundaries with your kids? Parenting experts Dr Becky Kennedy and Professor Emily Oster have shared three top tips.

Nomophobia - the fear of being away from a mobile phone - is an increasing concern for families, as two-thirds of parents have noticed the negative effects of screen time on their children. It's no surprise then, that so many are looking for tips to stop kids from doomscrolling.

Fortunately, child psychologist Dr Becky Kennedy and parenting expert Professor Emily Oster have teamed up to share three tips on setting screen time boundaries in your family. Dr Becky is the author of Good Inside, a parenting guide book, while Emily Oster is an economist who translates data into parenting advice - so they're both well placed to offer their expertise on the topic.

3 tips to set screen time boundaries

A post shared by Dr. Becky

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  1. Know your job: Dr Becky encourages you to remember "my job is not to make my kid happy, my job is to make decisions that I believe are best for my kid." She says that reminding yourself of this will make sure you aren't thrown off if your kid whines or screams.
  2. Plan your screen time boundaries in advance: Emily Oster says, "Think about how much screen time people are getting, when is the screen time, what form does it come in and write out a plan." This way, everyone knows what boundaries they should expect.
  3. Have your script ready: Dr Becky helpfully shares hers: "Sweetie, it's time to put down your device like we talked about. I get it, it's hard. It's hard for me too." This means you are telling them to put it down, not asking, which makes the boundary clear.

After posting the advice on Instagram, many of the experts' followers were grateful for the tips. One wrote in the comments, "Thank you for these tips. Gaming is starting to become a struggle for my 8 year old." Another said, "These are great tips! I think the first one about reminding yourself about your job is so essential because as soon as that meltdown comes its easy to scramble and start negotiating".

Others shared their own tips for setting screen time boundaries with kids. One shared, "Something we have found helpful is discussing the effect of screens on the brain...It's an ongoing conversation but it is helping." While some placed importance on giving kids a warning - with one saying "Also, give them a 5 minute warning!" and a different user adding, "We also give grace if they are finishing a video game at that point. Just like I would like grace if I am finishing a conversation on text."

In related news, parents are being warned that screen time is being scientifically linked to abnormal behaviour in toddlers, and experts have shared with us nine ways your phone addiction is affecting your children - and how to reverse the effects.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.