Divorced parents can battle over a lot of things, including child support, bedtimes, who gets the kids for Thanksgiving or Christmas, educational philosophy, religious observances and stepparents newly arrived on the scene.
Now there’s the issue of screen time. With the increasing pervasiveness of tablets and smart phones, particularly among the younger set, it’s as common to see kids glued to their iPhones or iPads as it is to see adults. But studies show that too much screen time isn’t great for kids. It impacts their attention span and their cognitive abilities, and they can easily become addicted.
So what happens when you want your kids’ screen time limited and your ex is perfectly happy to have them become technology zombies?
The best solution is probably to try to find a way to work it out. Sit down and have a discussion about the impact that screen time may be having on your child’s studies, physical fitness and amount of sleep. Perhaps discuss the age-appropriateness of the games your child is playing or the apps he or she is using. (For example, an 8-year-old is much too young to be Facebooking, Snapchatting or Instagramming). If it’s just a basic philosophical difference and there’s no legitimate apparent harm to the child, your best bet might just be to let it go. After all, you can still enforce your own rules when your child is with you.
On the other hand, if you truly feel the amount and type of screen time is causing harm to your child, you might consider court intervention, perhaps seeking an order that your child’s usage be limited when he or she is with your ex-spouse. But let’s be clear: You probably won’t win. You’d most likely need hard evidence that your child is missing school or other important activities or has suffered some sort of actual physical or psychological harm from the excessive screen time or supposedly inappropriate use. Otherwise, it’s just a battle of parenting philosophies and the court won’t want to get into that. It also might make you look like a contentious, uncooperative parent, which could impact your standing in other future disputes.
Still, if this is a serious concern of yours, it may be worth talking to a family lawyer about the best way to proceed.