When parents have disputes over the child’s screen time

When California divorced parents with shared physical custody have different ideas about the appropriate amount of time for children to spend online or watching television, there are ways for them to handle it. The parent who puts limits on the child’s screen time is likely to be the one who is trying to figure out what to do.

Parents should talk to each other about their concerns about the child’s spending too much time playing video games or watching television. A parent who is spending a lot of time with the child playing Pokemon Go may say that he or she believes that doing so is helping the child to get outside while also allowing the parent and child some bonding time.

The concerned parent could file a motion with the court but should take care before doing so. Unless the amount of time the child spends online is having a negative impact on the child’s grades or other activities, a court is unlikely to do anything about it. The judge may see the person who has brought the matter to court as someone who is interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the child if endangerment or negative consequences from the screen time cannot be shown.

For some parents, the best option may be to simply let it go. They will need to be able to work together for years as their children grow. Choosing to focus on what is in the best interests of the child and working to develop a good co-parenting relationship may make everything smoother overall. However, not everything can be worked out informally. A parent who has concerns that an activity that the child engages in at the other parent’s home is damaging for the child may want to consult with a family law attorney to see what recourse may be available.