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Celebrity Parents Make Good Screen Sense A Priority

Celebrity kids, they're just like us: addicted to glowing screens of every shape and size.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children spend an average of seven hours a day consuming entertainment media from televisions, computers, tablets, and phones.

Of course, the trope of being "raised by technology" long predated Angry Birds.

“That’s my parenting style -- ‘Go watch the TV,’” Stephen Colbert joked to Buzzfeed last year. “I’m one of 11 children, and my mother’s parenting style was ‘There’s the TV. Go watch it. Mommy’s got 10 other people to take care of.’"

But the truthiness of the matter is more complicated, and parenting in an age of omnipresent and addictive tech can be tricky. Here are five celebrity-endorsed (and also, you know, science-approved) tips for helping kids build healthy relationships with technology:

1. Pay attention to recommended guidelines for media exposure.

Kristen Bell made headlines earlier this year when she revealed that her daughters haven't yet seen "Frozen" because they're too young to watch TV. The AAP suggests limiting screen time to one or two hours per day for children and teens and none at all for kids under 2.

"We’re trying to follow [those guidelines], which unfortunately is not realistic for all parents," Bell told Us Weekly. "I understand, we’re shooting for the moon."

Other recommendations include replacing entertainment media with educational content, turning off the TV during meals, and declaring kids' bedrooms "screen-free zones."

 

Around here we call this...Sunday Funday #coconuts #LOVE

A photo posted by Jennifer Lopez (@jlo) on

 

2. Set a screen-time schedule -- and stick to it.

Late CEO of Apple Steve Jobs was presumably a big fan of the iPad, but, as he told The New York Times in 2010, he banned his children from using the device. “They haven’t used [iPads]," he said. "We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Many parents devise their own systems, setting schedules for their kids' tech usage so that it won't distract from school or healthier play.

Hugh Jackman told People that the weekend is the only screen time his kids are allowed. “A buddy of mine has a rule that I installed: No screens during the week. No TV, or computer, or anything like that,” the "X-Men" star said.

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez is even stricter with twins Max and Emme, 7. The "American Idol" judge instituted a system she calls "Sunday Funday," in which her kids can use tablets and play video games just one day a week.

"All they want to do is be on these devices all the time. They get to play with it as much as they want that day," she told E! News. "I try to regulate it and then on Sunday, I let them go and I take a nap while they're doing it." 

3. Be informed about the technologies kids are using.

“The Internet is just so challenging as a parent," Reese Witherspoon told Marie Claire in 2011. “You really don’t know who they are Skyping with or who they are on Facebook with, and I’m trying to stave all that off as long as I possibly can, but I know it’s a reality."

Angelina Jolie took a drastic -- and costly -- step toward protecting her children online when she hired a cyber security team to monitor their Internet activity. The actress and director told People that she doesn't use social media herself, and therefore lacks the know-how to understand what her kids are up to. "It's a scary new world," she said.

Perhaps a bit dystopian, though she's certainly not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the dangers her children might face. Those who cannot afford a cyber security detail can make an effort to engage with and learn about what the kids are into these days --then parents can be informed enough to set appropriate limits and talk through potential problems with their children.

 

 

4. Promote non-pixelated fun.

"[iPads are] not like a book when you’re filling in the pictures with your mind, it’s very presentational," mom of two Gwyneth Paltrow told Stylist Magazine. "We need imagination in our lives as room to grow. I don’t think it’s great for development." 

The AAP agrees. According to the organization's website, "Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity." 

Instead, kids should enjoy outdoor play, arts and crafts, and/or a good ol' mind-bending, page-turning book (in addition to hundreds of other unplugged ideas). An increased emphasis on making healthy choices can have a good effect on parents, too.

"I’ll say to my son, ‘Hey, let's go play on the Wii,’" said Jackman, a father of two. "And he goes, ‘Dad, it’s a beautiful day! Let’s go outside!'”

#home w my babies 💞

A photo posted by Jessica Alba (@jessicaalba) on

 

5. Practice what you preach.

 Of course, telling kids to get off the family iPad only does so much if parents are constantly reaching for phones or laptops themselves. 

The Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba told Target that she limits her own screen time along with that of her daughters, Honor, 7, and Haven, 3: "This applies as much to us as parents as it does our kids -- they know when you're really present and paying attention, too."

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