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There was a time when parents had only to be concerned with how much television their children watched and struggled with how to define time limits. TV was at the outer limits of technology then. (If I’m aging myself here, my grandmother told me). With the advent of computers and smart phones, there is more to be concerned about and limit setting becomes more complicated and more difficult to define.

I could use this space to make the usual suggestions of shutting down phones at a certain time every day, limiting the number of hours allowed on the computer, and setting an example as parents. Instead I’d like to share some thoughts of a different nature for consideration in defining screen time use in your family.

Let’s think about what’s lost, or at least minimized in favor of screen time, especially in the context of the family.

Families provide us with a sense of you we are, both collectively and individually.

We learn how to communicate and negotiate differences within our families.

We begin to define who we are as individuals and how to value ourselves in the mirror that is held up to us.

How confident, courageous, interested in life, and capable we are, offer just a few of the things we learn in our families.

We develop our relational competence growing up in families. It’s where we see how to have a relationship and what to expect for ourselves from others. We learn how to have boundaries and balance.

Families give us roots, memories, and write our early stories for us. And eventually, we get wings to fly from our families with a welcoming nest to revisit.

Don’t get me wrong. Technology has its value and its place in our lives.

The gifts of family are irreplaceable and invaluable and are integral to our sense of selves, and knowing belongingness and connection.

I hope this shines a helpful light on your decisions about screen time in your family.

My grandmother said it would.

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