#TWKatHome Family Fridays

Need a Hack to Figure Out Screen Time at Your House?

Wendy Jeffries, Executive Director, TasteWise Kids

Our #TWKFamilyFridays series is where we hope to provide you with resources to both learn a little more about the world of food and its sources, and connect with one another in the process.


I know many of us are juggling (or maybe more aptly, struggling) with how to structure and limit media and screen time for our kids and family these days. Given that so much of all of our time is already spent on screens for learning and work, it’s even harder. 

There are certainly a lot of resources and guidance out there already so we won’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, I offer a “ hack” I’ve found useful and a few questions to help you think through mealtimes and screens.


Here's the Hack

This interactive resource from the American Association of Pediatrics helps you create a family media plan that is individual for your family. You enter your kids’ ages and then go through a series of easy questions to create your personalized family plan. The questions are set up as a checklist with possible answers to make it even easier. The questions are comprehensive yet not overwhelming - ex. screen free times, where to charge devices, etc.

My favorite part was the Media Time calculator which creates a visual- almost like an infographic- for each child about how much time is spent on other key activities. It comes set with the recommended number of hours for sleep & physical activity based on age though you can adjust them as well for your family structure. Once all the other activities are entered, whatever is left is screen time.

Questions Related to Meals and Screens

  • Do you want to make meals a screen-free time? (this should apply for both adults and children and include phones)
  • Is it for all meals or just one or two?
  • If screens are allowed, are only certain types of activities ok? For example:
  • Only for family movie dinner/nights? 
  • Only at breakfast with online book read-alouds?
  • On weekends when you do a Zoom brunch with grandparents?
  • If you want to play music, is it audio only or videos ok?
  • If screens are off limits during meals, what are some ways to still make meals engaging and fun? Check out one of our earlier posts with ideas, including a printable list of conversation starters

There are no wrong or right answers to these questions. Decide what works best for you and your family for NOW. To help make things clear for kids, regardless of age, once you decide on the screen and meal parameters, share the decisions and be consistent. Writing them down the rules and posting them in the kitchen/meal space can help.