Create a Family Screen Time Contract

Screens get a bad wrap, but they’re not horrible if you’re using them safely, correctly, and when appropriate! Get your family together, and talk openly about screen use and how to make sure screen time doesn’t erase family time. 


Every parent has experienced it. You call the kids for dinner, or bed, or to get dressed and…nothing. Crickets. You call again, louder, and still nothing. They’re watching TV, playing on their phone or iPod, or gaming with their pals. It’s not against the house rules, but there’s no time for screens right now!


Let’s talk about making busy times and family times screen free.


My home isn’t screen free (hello, Active Parents!) but we try to practice smarter screen usage. It’s not easy, but we need it. The parents are as addicted to our phones are the kids are to TV and iPads. We noticed this on 2 separate occasions. A few weeks ago, we told the kids it was Pizza and Movie Night and they cheered – and then they said: “Can you not be on your phones, though?” Ouch. Not only do they see how much we’re mindlessly scrolling, but it’s clearly giving them a feeling that their parents aren’t connected at family-time. That sparked me to add an app to my phone that tracked my usage. I was figuring 2+ hours a day were being wasted, and boy was I wrong! I’m averaging 3-4 hours a day with little to show for it, and don’t even ask the numbers from that rainy weekend a few weeks ago…


How do we make better choices?


Knowledge is power, they say, and it’s true. Once I saw those cell phone usage numbers, I was determined to do better. So when I saw Healthy Kids Burlington and the Burlington Library were hosting a workshop on how to create a family screen time contract, I was in. My 10-year-old and I attended, and are we glad we did. We learned some of the key metrics for recommended screen times (a maximum of 2 hours a day based on my kids’ ages) and that not everything with a “screen” is bad screen time. School usage and educational apps, for example, can be very beneficial, especially when a parent spend time learning about the program with their kid.


Make a plan and stick with it


Download the Family Screen Time Contract and get the whole family together to talk about it. This contact is a step-by-step guide to getting your family disconnected from devices, and reconnected to each other. It walks you through different scenarios where screens could be interfering with your communication, like dinner and bedtime, and makes suggestions that caregivers can act on with little effort needed. You can really do better with the help of this contract, I promise.


Download the contract here and be on your way to a better relationship with your phone – and your family.
Page 1 – The Instructions: learn about ideal limits on screen usage, healthy benefits of including screen-free fun in your day, and more.



Page 2 – The Contract: Read the options, and check the boxes that apply best to YOUR family. This sheet helps you decide when and where screens work (and don’t work) for your family.


Page 3 – The Alternatives: No screen? No problem! Just make a list of some screen-free activities that your family likes to do and have it at the ready before the whining strikes! Before you know it, it will be second nature!




If you have some great idea on how to limit screen time, how to balance it, or some alternatives that your family recommends, please share them in the comments below! And if you need some inspiring ideas, check out our list of ways to spend a spring day in Burlington.




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