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Dad worried about kids' screen time

DEAR AMY My wife and I have three great kids, ages 9 to 15. We live in an affluent community where most kids have "smart" devices and all manner of video- game options at home. I am not against technology, but when my kids had free time this summer, their first choice was to either watch movies or entire TV series online -- or play video games. If left unattended, they can remain glued to their screens for hours. To break the pattern, we'd go swimming, play ball in our yard, ride bikes or go to the library. When the alternative activity ended, they would inevitably gravitate back to their favorite shows or games for another mini-marathon. To be fair, when I was a kid I used to watch game shows on TV all morning during the summer. But we did a lot of other things, too. I think my kids are missing out on some of the simple pleasures of childhood. My wife and I have tried several times to regulate this, but despite our intentions, these rules tend to get quietly broken. I don't want my kids to resent me for trying to control a habit, but I am not comfortable letting things go. Your insight?

Uncertain Dad

DEAR DAD In your youth, the media offerings were slim, and yet you report watching game shows during your summertime mornings. I assume if there had been daylong game-show marathons, you would have spent longer periods watching.

I do think there is an (imperfect) equivalency between binge-watching TV series and binge-reading all seven Harry Potter books -- both activities have to do with getting lost in an entertainment during the endless days of summer.

But being in charge of your kids is your job. You need to become media literate. Talk to them about what they watch and occasionally watch (and play) along with them.

You also need to be a human remote control. Whether you decide to switch off the household wireless during certain hours or have them turn in their devices during "blackout" times, this is a parenting no-brainer.

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