You can get your kids’ screen habits under control



Short-term pain means long-term gain

You can get your kids screen habits under control


If you worry that your kids have been “ruined” by an increase in their screen time since Covid, you are not alone. Dana Avidan Cohn was such a parent, but she’s brought her screen-addicted sons back from the brink. Writing for msn.com, she details what it took, and shares how everyone, needless to say, is happier for it.

As we move further away from “the time before,” perspectives have changed on many things, especially screen time for the kids. Cohn notes this distinctive trajectory. Like her, prior to Covid-19, my friends and I – with children ranging in age from toddlerhood to young adulthood – fretted about how much time the children spent (and, let’s be honest, how much time we spent) in front of screens. We expended significant effort – not always successfully, but we tried – getting the youngsters outside, among friends, running around like we did in our childhoods, when “screen time” was just sitcoms and, for some of us, MTV.

Then, of course, Covid-19 hit, and screens became the only way for kids to go to school, and safely hang out and play with their peers. Like a lot of parents, Cohn threw her hands up, and let things slide in a big way, eventually giving her two sons practically unlimited screen time. She had work to do herself and needed to care for a two-year-old daughter. Of course she was stressed out. And she wrestled with guilt over depriving them of so much. But as long as her boys were safe, entire days of screen time were... OK?

READ MORE: Co-learner, not gatekeeper

At first, maybe. But then, she writes: “Before long, things started to get out of control. They were online all day long. And it started to impact their mood and behavior. Every time I would ask them to shut off the devices and take a break or play outside, they would complain and argue. They would spend the whole day asking when they could get back on – like some kind of incessant two-headed whine monster.”

Cohn and her husband reset limits. The boys could play in the afternoon from 5 to 6 p.m. before dinner. The parents would be firm, consistent. Sounds simple. It was not.

As Cohn writes: “The withdrawal was real. They were awful for days! Genuinely upset and deeply frustrated around the clock. They cried, they were angry, they gave a million reasons why it wasn't fair. They both had toddler-style meltdowns! Really, if it wasn't so upsetting, it would have been quite funny. But after a few days, they started to settle into the new routine. They began to pull out their old toys and to play cards, Legos, and invent new make-believe games together! Bedtime got easier and their sleep improved. They seemed calmer. It was truly shocking how much of a difference we noticed in them.”

It can be done, fellow parents. But as with so many things, success depends on firmness and consistency.



More Homeschooling


  • Mother Shares Her Journey with Heroin-Addicted Daughter

    Read the gripping new book about this family

    September is National Recovery Month and one mom has shared her journey with her daughter struggling with addiction. read more »
  • Learn How to Help Your Struggling Adolescents Navigate Change and Overcome Anxiety

    Parenting expert Erica Komisar has a new book that can assist you

    Adolescence is a notoriously complicated time for kids as well as their parents. Plus, the epidemic of mental health disorders in young people has made parenting today even more challenging. But it’s not too late. Parents of adolescents can still have a profound impact on the health and well-being of their children. read more »
  • The Mama Bear Effect Launches New Resource to Combat Child Sexual Abuse

    Parents of young children and those with special education needs now have a free tool to educate children about their bodies and boundaries

    Parents, caregivers, teachers, and therapists now have a new tool to educate the most vulnerable population of children, those who need specialized assistance with learning and communication. read more »
  • Libraries in the Hudson Valley

    Visit your local library for books, classes, events and more

    Libraries are a great resource for families. Not only can you check out a book, or two or three...you can also find classes for kids and adults. Some have summer reading programs, book clubs, homework help, career education and family-friendly events. read more »
  • Stem toy that kids are guaranteed to love

    Kids can learn all about the digestive system

    Have your kids take a journey through the belly with this STEM kit from Meandmine. HVP staff's grandkids review this fun toy and it gets 2 thumbs up! read more »
  • How to be funny, and how not to be

    Famous comedian Roy Wood Jr. offers tips

    Being funny can be a kid’s superpower, but it can also become a weapon to wound. Comedian Roy Wood Jr. helps fellow parents guide children accordingly. read more »
  • How and when to teach kids about homophobia

    A two-mom couple offer tips on having this crucial conversation

    Social media influencers Ebony and Denise, moms of three kids, have some helpful guidance on how and when to broach the topic of homophobia with your family. read more »
  • s-NO-w Day

    The world won't come to a halt if you spend the snow day with your kids

    Peter Shankman offers some great advice on what to do with that surprise snow day read more »
  • Three books to encourage healthy outdoor play

    Great ideas to help kids get outside

    A fun journey with a grandma and granddaughter, nature play and how to create areas to connect children with the natural world read more »
  • Words to soothe the angry child

    The right phrase can make all the difference

    Pandemic or no, children can get really mad, really fast. The folks at motherly offer some strategic phrases that can help de-escalate any number of situations, from toddler-hood to the teen years. It’s never too early to teach anger management. read more »