Glued to the Gadget: Managing Screen Time

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Many children have trouble managing screen time and knowing when it is time to power down. Children with executive functioning difficulties have a tougher time making balanced decisions about technology. Even Silicon Valley parents in the tech industry have become acutely aware of the impact technology has on children at home and many have tech-free homes or set strict guidelines.

Technology has certainly played a positive role in the world of education and advanced the way we teach in the classroom, tremendously. The most recent New York Time's article on Google's role in the classroom explains how the company is playing an integral role in helping our children to learn. However, the article raises the controversial point regarding reliance on tech, the intrusion into our children's world and the challenge for parents in finding the right balance of tech usage.

Technology can affect several of our executive functions. Learn about these roadblocks and how you can help your children manage. 

Sustained Attention 

The dozens of different methods our smartphones and computers are equipped with to alert us (buzzing, ringing, pings, pop-up messages), make it extremely difficult to stay focused on the task at hand.

Time Management

Kids with executive functioning issues or ADHD can get "lost" in a game and forget about the homework or project they need to work on. They can spend hours in front of the screen; it's easy to lose track of time when one is so zoned into their gadgets.

Impulse control

Research shows that we are addicted to our smartphones. There is information out there stating that programmers are engineering our phones and apps to make us check them more often. Check out the 60 Minutes segment on phone addiction to learn more. Psychologists have found that technology effects our anxiety levels. When we spend time away from our phones, our brains produce cortisol that leads to a fight or flight response. In primitive times, this response was meant as a safety precaution, today it urges us to check our phones. Research has found that teens are among the most vulnerable to phone anxiety.

What Can We Do to Help?

Avoid Technology at Bedtime

  • End screen time 30 minutes before bedtime. TV, computers and phones can act as a stimulant. Unplug well before your child's bedtime so that he or she can unwind and relax.
  • Keep phones and computers out of the bedroom at night.

Remind your Child to Power Down

  • Discuss with your child in advance, a designated amount of time he is allowed to use the device.
  • Set a timer or use the built-in alarm on the device to monitor usage.
  • Give your child a 5-minute warning so that when the timer goes off, she is more prepared to switch gears to a different activity.

Minimize Distractions

  • When your child is studying, make sure the TV is off, their phone is out if sight and switched to silent. It is ideal to study in an area where there is minimal technology.
  • Consider using apps such as SelfControl to block certain websites during homework time; browsing the Internet can be distracting!

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Every student has a different learning style. For an individualized plan customized to your child's needs, please contact Dana Aussenberg at or email