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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Heake

The Ultimate Parenting Tip for Screen-time: Role-modeling

As parents, we're constantly questioning ourselves - and we get especially self-critical when there isn't a clear answer.

How much screen-time is too much??

What if the secret to healthy tech use in your kids had less to do with rules and more to do with role-modeling? That's right – the way you interact with technology can have a significant impact on your children's habits. Research shows the greatest predictor of problematic smart device usage in kids and teens is observing problematic smart device usage in their parents. So, let's dive into exactly why role modeling is so crucial and how you can lead by example.


1. Kids Are Always Watching (No Pressure!)

Remember when you tried to sneak a cookie from the jar, only to find your little one staring right at you? They're always watching – and learning. Children are experts at picking up on your habits, and this includes your relationship with technology. By being aware of your own tech usage and setting a positive example, you're laying the groundwork for their digital behavior. Just think of yourself as a living, breathing instruction manual for healthy tech habits.

2. Practice What You Preach

It's all well and good to talk about the importance of limiting screen time, but if your kids see you glued to your phone or tablet, your words will ring hollow. Consistency is crucial when it comes to role modeling. Show them that you value tech balance by putting your device away during family time, meals, and before bedtime. Who knows, you might even rediscover the lost art of conversation.

3. Be Open and Honest

Creating an open and honest dialogue about technology is key to helping your kids navigate the digital world. Share your experiences and challenges with technology, and encourage them to do the same. This not only fosters trust and understanding but also helps you stay connected to their digital lives. Plus, you might learn some nifty new tricks from your pint-sized tech gurus. Never underestimate the power of showing vulnerability to your children. It leads to comfort, safety, and healthy questions, all opportunities for you to better support them.

4. Balance Is the Name of the Game

Demonstrate the importance of balancing screen time with other activities by engaging in a variety of non-tech pursuits. Why not start a family game night, plan outdoor adventures, or pick up a new hobby together? The more you show your kids that life exists beyond screens, the more they'll appreciate the value of a well-rounded lifestyle. And hey, who wouldn't love to see their kids covered in mud after an epic backyard treasure hunt?

5. It's Okay to Make Mistakes (Really)

Let's face it, nobody's perfect – and that includes you. Embrace your tech-related slip-ups as teachable moments and show your kids that it's okay to make mistakes. After all, the road to tech balance is paved with trial and error. By acknowledging your own challenges and working to improve, you're modeling resilience and adaptability – two essential life skills for the digital age. For those perfectionists out there (like me...), remember, being kind to yourself when you make a mistake teaches your children that it is okay to make mistakes. We're all human and no one is perfect. Be kind to yourself.


In conclusion, the secret to raising tech-savvy, balanced kids lies in your own actions. By being a positive role model, practicing consistency, fostering open communication, promoting balance, and embracing your own tech-related imperfections, you'll set the stage for a healthy, well-rounded relationship with technology in your household. Remember, your kids are watching you – so give them a tech-savvy, balanced performance worth replicating.

If you found this helpful and want more in depth guidance on navigating parenting with technology - check out my ebook, Screen Time Solutions. You can also subscribe to this blog or email me, if you'd like. Warmly, Matthew

Therapist, parent, and tech analyst.

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