How to use a Family Media Plan to Bring Screen Balance to your Home

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Are you trying to limit your family’s screen time but running into resistance?

As you work towards your screen balance goals, creating a family media plan is essential. It can help with getting family buy-in and making more long-term changes by making sure expectations are clear and everyone is on the same page. 

The following suggestions are inspired by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but remember they are just ideas, you should choose what works best for your family. 

If this list still feels intimidating, try incorporating one new ‘media rule’ or habit at a time. Give it a little while to become part of your family’s routine, then add the next one, and so one.

And feel free to have fun with it! Add pictures, drawings, and your own flair... then hang your family’s media plan up proudly on your refrigerator or somewhere else visible as a reminder of your family values and priorities. 

Family Media Plan Template

Screen Free Zones

Screens (phone, computer, tablet, gaming devices, TV) are not allowed in the following screen-free zones in our home:

  • Bedroom
  • Kitchen
  • Dining room table
  • _______________

Consequences: _________________

Screen Free Times

We will not use mobile devices or other screens during the following times:

  • While walking across the street
  • While doing homework
  • While at school
  • While in the car, except for long trips
  • During family time
  • During meal times
  • 1 hour before bedtime
  • _________________

Consequences: _________________

Device Curfews

Devices will charge overnight in:

  • Parent's bedroom
  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • _______

Consequences: _________________

Intentional Screen Use

When we have recreational screen time, we will:

  • Co-view (watching media with a parent or adult)
  • Co-play (playing video games & using apps with a parent or adult)
  • Video chat with friends or relatives
  • Play learning apps
  • Play apps that are creative, educational & promote healthy interactions with others
  • Watch age appropriate & educational shows & videos
  • Watch "educational" shows & use apps that have been reviewed & vetted by trusted sources to actually be educational such a PBS or Common Sense Media
  • NOT play video games that are against our family’s rules both at home & at someone else’s house
  • NOT download apps, movies, games without permission & asking an adult if they are appropriate for my age
  • NOT visit new websites or video sites without asking permission
  • _______________

Consequences: _________________

Online / Offline Balance

By decreasing screen time, we will have more time for:

  • Reading
  • Sleeping
  • Being with friends
  • Playing board games
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Doing science experiments
  • Playing outside
  • Joining a team or playing a sport
  • __________________

Consequences: _________________

Media Manners

We will show good media manners by:

  • Not looking at the phone or texting while talking with someone
  • Not keeping the phone on (or under) the table during meals
  • __________

Consequences: _________________

Digital Citizenship

We will be good digital citizens by:

  • Respecting the privacy of others (We will never forward a text or photo without asking permission)
  • Not being rude or bullying anyone online
  • Sticking up for others online
  • Telling a parent or other trusted adult if we or others are being bullied, disrespected, attacked or treated badly online
  •    Telling a parent or other trusted adult if we get messages or photos that make us uncomfortable
  •     ________________

Consequences: _________________

Digital Safety

We will follow these digital safety rules: 

  • Do not give out personal information online
  • Do not use a phone or text while crossing a street
  • Do not share private photos online
  • Review Privacy Settings on all sites
  • Do not befriend, chat with or virtually game with someone without a parent's permission
  • _____________

Consequences: _________________

So... What works best for your family?

What does your media plan look like?

Let us know!

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