The kids are home for summer, which likely means your patience and your WiFi are being tested. It’s tough for parents to balance their work schedules with keeping an eye on moody adolescents and their screen time, especially during months off from school, but a new study from Pediatric Research explains why it’s more important than ever for parents to lead by example. Sure, limiting screen time is nothing new, but researchers also looked at how parents’ own habits and rules around the home affected their tweens’ usage. And before you freak out, rest assured that they also offer some very doable research-based tips that can help curb kids’ screen usage.

The study looked at more than 10,000 adolescents (ages 12–13) and their parents to get a sense of their screen habits (e.g., are parents using devices in front of kids, are kids allowed to be on screens at bedtime) and their feelings about it (e.g., were screens interfering with school, was it hard to tear themselves away from their devices). They also set out to see how parental practices were associated with child outcomes, like how much time kids spend on their devices playing video games, texting, watching videos, browsing, and scrolling social media. A baseline was recorded when the study participants were 9-10 years old, and researchers followed up with them three years later.

Parents were asked about screen usage through a self-reported questionnaire that analyzed six categories—screen time modeling, mealtime screen use, bedroom screen use, parental control of screen use, parental monitoring of screen use, and parental limiting of screen use—while adolescents self-reported total screen time usage on weekdays and weekends. Those who reported having social media, playing video games, or using a mobile phone were asked to complete follow-up questionnaires.

The study found that parents are key in helping to build healthy screen habits in their kids. When parents modeled good usage, kept tabs on their kids’ screen time, and set limitations, overall screen time decreased. On the flip side, when parents were more lenient with screens, both with themselves and their kids, screen time went up. “These results are heartening because they give parents some concrete strategies they can use with their tweens and young teens,” says Dr. Jason Nagata, one of the study’s authors and a pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. The authors concluded the study with a few suggestions for parents looking to curb their big kids’ screen time use:

1. Nix the devices during mealtime and at bedtime.

Millennials may have been raised on Must See TV at dinnertime, but one pretty easy way to help keep screen time in check is to say so long to devices during meals and at bedtime. Researchers concluded that leaning on screens at these times correlated with increased overall usage and more addictive behavior in kids. Citing other studies, they noted that “watching screens during meals has been linked to overeating, distracted eating, and weight gain/obesity,” while screen use at bedtime can result in sleep disturbances and less overall sleep, possibly as a result of blue light effects, disturbances from notifications, and higher arousal at bedtime.

2. Don’t use screen time as a reward or punishment.

When our kids misbehave or test our patience, taking away their devices is a quick way to get them back in line—but it’s actually a really bad idea. When parents used screens to control their kids’ behavior, either as a reward or punishment, it was associated with an increase in overall screen time and more problematic video game use. The same way we try not to use dessert as a means of disciplining our kids because it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with sweets, we don’t want to turn screens into something they lust after even more.

3. Include your kids in setting boundaries around screens.

Yes, modeling good screen time hygiene is always important, but one way to take this idea to the next level is to engage your kiddos in conversations about setting limits. Researchers suggest implementing a family media use plan, which may be even more successful when parents and children agree on clear and consistent rules. “This is particularly important for early adolescents who may spend longer portions of the day away from home and are developing more autonomy,” they added. So empower your kids to help create the boundaries, because then they’ll be more likely to actually follow them.

The message here isn’t that parents should blame themselves, stop using screens, and never pull out a device in front of their kids. That’s just not realistic. And screens can help us stay connected with family, friends, and our communities. But there are some positive changes we can all make to try to ensure that we keep our kids’ (and our own) screen usage in check. After all, we’re just as susceptible to the allure of a social media feed as our children. We just have to lead by example and establish some boundaries to set up our families for success.

Related: Study Shows Which Types of Screen Time Hurt Language Development

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