Have you ever felt concerned about the amount of time your family spends in front of screens? In today’s world, we can be inundated with them between cell phones, computers, tablets and television. According to Dr. Indira Abraham-Pratt, licensed Florida Hospital for Children psychologist, a family meeting is a great way to kick-off cutting back on screen time and find more ways to spend quality time together as a family. Check out her tips below.
Set up a date and time
- Set the meeting in advance, and give information on topics to be discussed ahead of time so family members have time to think about ideas.
- Allow for plenty of time to talk without interruptions.
- Before the meeting, have family members keep track of how they spend their time.
- Examples include: family activities versus individual activities, or using technology or media versus not using media.
At the start of the family meeting, set some rules and review the meeting purpose
- Come up with 3-4 rules, as a family, so that you can have an effective meeting.
- Examples include: raise your hand to speak, or no interrupting when someone is speaking
- Discuss the purpose of the family meeting.
- Example: to help the family balance their time and demands well
- Set a positive tone.
- Reinforce the concept of balancing life and family time in a manner that is healthy for everyone.
During the family meeting, work towards setting up a family media plan or contract .
- Ask open-ended questions, such as: “How do you feel about the amount of time you currently spend on the computer?” Or, “are there others things that you wish you could spend more time doing?”
- Encourage all family members to respectfully express their opinions.
- Be flexible and understanding.
- Work together to set up a specific family media plan. Consider goals/guidelines that you and your family members believe are appropriate for your family, and create clear consequences for violation of the rules (if appropriate).
After the family meeting, evaluate and re-evaluate your family media plan.
- Monitor or log media use versus time spent in other activities.
- Make adjustments to goals as needed.
- Praise family members for being successful balancing their time well, and offer encouragement and supportive ideas when improvement is needed.
Learn more about Dr. Pratt and Florida Hospital for Children’s Healthy 100 Kids Program