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Tips for helping divorced parents manage their kids' media access

One of the biggest challenges of parenting today is managing kids' media time and content. When most of us were growing up, that usually meant how many hours of TV we were allowed to watch. Now it involves computer time, video games, iPads, social media access and more. It's hard enough to do this in one household, but when a couple has split up, managing media access in two households is a bigger challenge.

Of course, as with any parenting decision, it's best if you and your ex can agree on how much screen time your kids get regardless of whose home they're in. When kids see that their parents are united on an issue, they're more likely to accept and obey the rules.

Here are some tips to help you and your ex manage your kids' media access as they split their time between households:

-- Divide their media access. Perhaps keep the Wii and other games at one home and the tablets in the other one, for example.

-- Reach an agreement on what kinds of TV shows, games and movies are appropriate for your kids. If they know they can watch violent movies at their dad's house, but not at mom's, you're not sending a consistent message.

-- If they live with one parent during the week and the other on the weekends, recognize that the rules may be different when they don't have school the next day. However, that doesn't mean that they should spend all weekend watching movies on their laptops.

-- Don't pick fights over little things. If you and your ex can reach some basic agreements on how much and what kind of entertainment is appropriate for your kids, that's what's important. If they truly want to see a movie or TV show that you're fine with, but you don't think you're ex will be, discuss it first. Even though you might think that it will make you the "popular" parent, don't put your kids in the middle of a dispute over entertainment content.

Most divorced parents are able to work these things out, and that's best for the well-being of the kids. However, if it becomes a real problem, you may want to discuss it with your family law attorney to see if there's anything you can put in writing to control your kids' media access when they're with their other parent.

Source: Huffington Post, "Managing Media With Your Ex," Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media, Jan. 15, 2016

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