Monitoring Screen Time

Monitoring Screen Time
Sean Carroll

The start of spring often brings warmer weather, new schedules and activities, later nights, and changes to our routines after the long winter. With all these changes, it is the perfect time to revisit family technology agreements and reevaluate our time spent on screens in a fresh light.

During our Parenting in a Digital Age workshop earlier in the year, we focused on three key areas around well-being and technology. They were:

  1. The impact of technology on kids and teens

  2. Advice and suggestions for managing screen time

  3. Developing family agreements

As we revisit these key ideas, we also look at them from different angles and from new perspectives. During our previous workshop we examined some of the neurological effects of screen time on development, self-regulation and behavior. 

Recently, I have been thinking of screen time in terms of “missed opportunities.” This means that when we are on our screens we are missing out on doing other things.  As the weather gets warm this may mean less time playing outside with friends, walking the dog,  spending time with family, practicing an instrument, arts and crafts, studying, sleep, or a variety of other worthwhile activities. 

In fact, we have found this exact thing happening with some of our students. 

Every 2 weeks students take a Komodo survey to monitor their well-being. One question from the grade 4-5 survey in particular has been raising some red flags:

On average, how many hours do you spend on screens outside  of your school work?

  • I don’t use devices

  • Less than 2 hours

  • 2-3 hours

  • 3-4 hours

  • More than 4 hours

Recently, more and more students have been answering 3-4 hours and More than 4 hours. If this is the case, what other activities are students missing out on?  

Many experts recommend a few practical steps for managing screen time and the digital life of our children and students. These may vary by age and family circumstance, but discussing and setting family agreements around technology is always a good idea. Here are a few of the key recommendations:

  • Keep devices out of bedrooms

  • Turn off devices at least 1 hour before bed

  • Create a list of non-negotiables before using a device (e.g. home work done, walk dog, etc)

  • Used shared accounts (especially for social media)

  • Keep digital life public 

  • Set family screen time limits

  • Create family agreements and revisit frequently


For more in depth information about each of these recommendations you can visit Common Sense Media (website link) and visit the Parent Tips and FAQ tabs to search articles by topics, age, or platform. This website also reviews movies, TV shows and apps and is highly recommended for parents to visit.


Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sean Carroll


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