Q: What can I say to family and friends with more lenient screen-time rules?
A: Everyone has different screen-time rules. It can be tough to talk about because you don’t want to come off as judgmental — or maybe you just don’t want to start a conflict. But if your kid is going to be spending a significant amount of time with kids whose parents have different rules, it is absolutely within your right — and in your kid’s best interest — to explain what you’re comfortable with.
Soften the blow by saying, for example, “I know I turn into a control freak when it comes to media, but it’s really important to me, and since I know our kids will be friends for a long time, I want you to know where I’m coming from.”
Sometimes bending your own rules for the benefit of social harmony is the way to go, but only you can make that call.
Here are some of the key issues to discuss, especially as your kid gets older:
State your preference. Say, “I’m OK with the kids watching a movie, but I’d like them to play on their playdate, too.”
Tell the parents if your kid is frightened by scary stuff; say you have a “thing” about him watching shows or playing games with potentially frightening images.
How close of an eye do the other parents keep on the kids, especially when they’re on the internet? Ask parents if they have content filters installed on their search engines.
Find out if the other kids in the house play multiplayer games. If your kid isn’t familiar with them, ask if multiplayer can be turned off until he gets the hang of the game. Make sure to talk to your kid about playing online games responsibly and respectfully.
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Find more recommendations at commonsense.org.