Employee & Community Health

Crafting a media plan to fit your family

9/25/2017 by Dr. Angela Mattke

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Kids glued to their screens. Parents checking texts at the table. Everyone posting selfies whenever and wherever. 

If media use is running rampant in your family, a media plan can help rein it in and align it with your parenting style. A media plan also can ensure that important activities such as talking face-to-face, family time, outdoor play, exercise, unplugged downtime, school work and sleep don't get squeezed out. 

With a new school year starting, now would be a great time to bring the family together and design a media plan, complete with goals and rules, that everyone can buy into. It also will help you as a parent determine the role you want media to play in your family. 

As you and the kids look at a plan, talk about media-free times together, such as dinner or drive time, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms. A big part of any media-use discussion will be what happens if someone breaks the rules. What will be the consequences? 

To help walk you and your family through creating a customized family media plan, the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website has created on online, step-by-step form (in both English and Spanish). You can customize it for your family as a whole, as well as for each child. Use this form as is, or as a starting point for an even more individualized plan. 

Once you've completed a plan, print and post it where everyone in the family can see it. You also may want to share it with grandparents, other relatives or teachers. Revise your family plan as often as needed, such as at the beginning of the school year or before holiday breaks. 

But the conversation doesn't stop with the plan. Daily situations and current events also should trigger ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect both online and offline. 

For more about children and screen time, watch this Mayo Clinic Minute video:

Dr. Angela Mattke is a general pediatrician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM) at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She is also host of Mayo Clinic's interactive FacebookLive show called, #AskTheMayoMom, where she discusses and answers audience questions about common pediatric health topics. You can follow her on Twitter at @DrAngelaMattke. For more information about pediatric health topics, follow @mayoclinickids on Twitter.