Managing Screen Time with Device Monitoring

This post is sponsored by Comcast.

With our kids, we’ve generally been screen light — different story for our own devices, but that’s another issue entirely. We’ve tried to avoid dealing with screen time since our 7-year-old was born. It’s not that I’m against screen time. It’s more that it intimidates me — all those limits by age set by medical professionals, all the apps and games out there for kids to use, all the pressure to get our kids the latest and greatest of technology. 

So, rather than get a handle on how to manage screen time in our home, I’ve been in denial that this is something we should be tackling. 

two kids playing on an iPadWell, it’s become clear since our oldest started kindergarten (not to mention the pandemic) that helping our kids develop healthy screen habits and necessary technology skills requires they use screens more regularly. And more regular screen time means my husband and I need to figure out how to manage time, content access, and — most importantly — family expectations.

I suppose the benefit of dragging our feet is we now have the chance to mindfully lay the foundation for screen time as our children get older. I am also glad I have mom friends with older children who I can turn to for advice.

Speaking of mom friends and advice, I recently had the opportunity to chat with a group of Kansas City moms alongside Comcast team members about managing screen time. One of the biggest revelations I had during our discussion was how our generation is the first to really deal with the issue of screen time on this scale. We can’t look to those who came before us for advice. Sure, we grew up as digital natives having been exposed to technology of various kinds since our own childhoods, but parenting in a sea of devices is different than growing up with them.

I’m concerned about the balance of raising children capable of navigating a technology-driven world without allowing that technology to consume their lives. And I know I’m not alone in that concern.

At the event, we not only heard wisdom and worry from other moms, but the professionals from Comcast shared what they have to help: the XFinity xFi platform. Xfinity xFi is a Wi-Fi platform that provides as simple digital dashboard in app form for Xfinity customers that can be downloaded on your phone or tablet. 

As Xfinity customers ourselves, we can… 

 

  • monitor all devices in our home by organizing them into individual profiles, this includes guest devices and those for our household like the thermostat or printer.
  • set time limits for use of specified devices and see what individual device usage looks like.
  • push pause on network access at scheduled times per user (mealtimes, bedtimes, etc.) or as needed.

Comcast Xfinity xFi platformWe’ve been satisfied Xfinity internet customers for a few years and are relieved to know that xFi can help us intentionally monitor and guide our children’s screen time as they become more screen literate. We’re grateful for the guardrails and monitoring we have access to through the xFi platform.

Beyond usage and access, xFi helps to filter content to provide better security and more peace of mind. It monitors, blocks, and informs us of online threats to our devices when they’re connected to our home network.

Moving forward, I now have ideas for how to put clear expectations and guidelines in place for our kids — expectations that will also apply to us as parents. My husband and I have had several conversations about what our own phone and computer usage should look like in front of the kids. Both of us want to avoid being in a room as a family, all staring at our own screens with the tv on in the background. 

One thing I wasn’t expecting from the event was making sure to consider the positive aspects of screen time and technology. Someone suggested a technology contract in order to instill more ownership and responsibility; another mom brought up the issue of quality screen time versus quantity (face-to-face chatting being different than playing games or mindlessly watching videos) and how screens can bring us together. 

Because screen time is now a permanent fixture in our society, finding ways to make our relationship with it a healthy one is crucial to setting our kids up for success. I’m glad I have tools and community to rely on since it does take a village, virtual or otherwise.

After growing up in Bellevue, Nebraska and graduating from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Claire made her way to Kansas City where she met her husband, Scott. They live in Olathe with their three children — Evan 7, Abbie 5, & Isaac 1. (Fun fact: All three have November birthdays!) Claire spends time advocating for early childhood education/intervention and is always looking for ways to become more civically engaged; she attends Olathe City Council meetings on the regular! She loves cheering on the Huskers and our KC teams, date nights, reading five books at once, writing, contemplating the deeper issues of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and listening to her kids giggle together. Catch some of those giggles on Instagram @clairebear_kc.

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