Season 2: Episode 7

Hope and Will: A Parenting Podcast from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Screen Time and Kids: Balancing the Benefits and Struggles

This episode explores the No. 1 topic requested by our listeners: screen time. You might know it as the ultimate love-hate relationship of parenting.

No matter what your thoughts were about screens and electronics before you had kids, they’re an inevitable part of our daily lives. From babies to teens, navigating screen time conversations and setting healthy boundaries can be tricky. The episode opens with a roundtable discussion with moms of kids who range in age from 2 to 14. From powering-down withdrawal symptoms to the peer pressures driving phone purchases, they offer raw—and relatable—insight into challenges caused by screens big and small.

We then welcome Stan Sonu, MD, MPH, a pediatrician who serves as our Medical Director for Child Advocacy, to help parents better understand the “why” behind screen time recommendations. He shares tips and resources for maximizing screen time to benefit children academically and emotionally, as well as insight into how screens disrupt brain chemistry and affect our emotional wellness. Spoiler alert: He’s quick to acknowledge there are benefits to some screen time, and he’s a big proponent of letting go of the guilt parents can feel when their kids access electronics.

Originally Aired: December 19, 2023

Meredith Huffaker, Mom to Preschoolers

Meredith is a mom to 2- and 5-year-old girls who is struggling with the behavioral side effects of screen time. She finds it helpful to use screens while traveling in the car or at home when she needs to complete a task, but she recognizes that her kids’ behavior is significantly different after spending time on screens.

Marquita Kirk, Mom to Elementary and Middle Schoolers

Marquita Kirk, a mom to 9-year-old fraternal twins and an 11-year-old boy, freely admits to struggling with the social and behavioral consequences of screen time. As her children grow and extracurricular activities like soccer and football fill their mid-week calendars, they’re feeling the strain of getting their screen time fix before lights go out for bedtime at 8:30 p.m.

Wendy Palmer, Mom to a Pre-teen and Teen

As a certified health education specialist on our Strong4Life team, Wendy has spent years helping develop messaging for heavy-hitting parenting topics like screen time. Even with rules firmly in place, her family still struggles with screen time boundaries—and it’s only gotten more complicated as her boys have grown older. She wants her boys to develop meaningful relationships and foster independence that can come with social media but also feels a strong sense of urgency to protect their mental wellbeing and digital footprint.

Dr. Stan Sonu, Medical Director for Child Advocacy

As our Medical Director for Child Advocacy, Dr. Sonu provides programmatic support for Strong4Life, Atlanta Legal Aid and the Health-Law Partnership (HeLP)—a medical-legal collaborative between Children's and Georgia State University. Dr. Sonu also serves as an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine, where his expertise and research interests include prevention of adverse childhood experiences and trauma-informed care education. Dr. Sonu provides direct care for patients at the Primary Care Center at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital. In his free time, you can find Dr. Sonu drinking good coffee, reading a book, and spending quality time with his wife and two kids, ages 4 and 8.

Lynn Smith

Lynn Smith is a veteran journalist, podcast host and mom of two boys. Her experience as the parent of a patient at Children’s inspired her to advocate for spreading awareness of childhood illnesses and injuries.