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When does screen time enter 'problem territory'?

A series of webinars by a local nonprofit is giving parents and caregivers the tools they need to navigate life with screens. Sponsored by Recovery Cafe

Screen time has become essential for kids during the pandemic — for both online learning and socialization. The impact of this screen time, though, is a growing concern for many parents. 

“It’s something a lot of parents have been struggling with, especially recently with the pandemic,” said Kelly Tansing, owner of Mindful Media. “But, there’s some really clear signs that kids can show if screen time use has become a problem in the family.”

Signs there may be a problem include:

  • Unwillingness to turn off screens
  • When screens are off, a constant urge to turn them back on
  • Efforts to get around rules to back on screens
  • Inability to focus on other tasks
  • Showing agitation, frustration or anger at not being able to be on screens
  • Family history with addiction 

If you notice signs of an issue, it’s important to have a conversation with your child.

“No one likes to be confronted about a problem, so it can be quite tricky,” Tansing said. “Just remember that threatening to cut them off or taking away their device can cause a lot of distress in children.”

Tansing encourages taking an approach that shows empathy. Address it as a family issue and seek to learn more about the situation. Discuss appropriate boundaries and work together as a team.

“It’s never too late to educate yourself on how you can talk to your kids about these situations,” Tansing said. “And if you feel you need extra help, there is help available, and there’s becoming more and more every day.”

To address screen time concerns, Recovery Cafe, a local nonprofit that serves people struggling with substance use disorder and other mental health challenges, will be hosting a series of webinars. The goal is to provide parents and caregivers knowledge, tools and support to help their children navigate life with screens. They will feature experts in the field, including Tansing, and be free to the public with support from the Snoqualmie Tribe.

All events will take place virtually between 7 and 8:30 p.m. with time for Q&A. Visit Recovery Cafe's website to register.

Sponsored by Recovery Cafe. Segment Producer Rebecca Perry. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.