HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) – Andrea Davis says she became concerned with digital media and screen time when her oldest child was just a couple of years old. Through the years her concern turned to activism.

She cautions that science is slower when it comes to realizing the impact of screen time on children’s development.

“If as adults we have a hard time putting our phone away or getting off social media then how can we expect young children whose brains are still developing and still have so much to learn be able to get off?”

Andrea now runs betterscreentime.com to help parents navigate the question of when to give children personal devices.

“There’s so many unknowns. You don’t really know all the pitfalls of handing over devices too soon until you’re in the thick of it.”

Andrea says sometimes parents don’t know how to stay in the driver’s seat so they rely on parental controls to do the hard work for them. She believes in setting up these digital guardrails, especially for younger children who might not be trying to figure out ways to get around them. But she says children are smart and will eventually find ways to bypass restrictions, so building a relationship of trust is the most important focus.

 “Sometimes parents will think ‘well, I set up a filter, I set up all the parental controls’ and then they walk away and it’s sometimes a false sense of security and it can sometimes replace teaching and conversations. At the end of the day they will end up in situations where those filters are not in place…. Yes, use parental controls but at the end of the day it really is going to be the teaching and the conversations and the relationship with your kids that will keep them from getting sucked into screens.”

When it comes to your child’s online access when they’re with friends, conversations with other parents are important too. Andrea recommends trying to find families with similar guidelines and gently let them know where you stand. She hopes parents will stay engaged and remember they have the final say to protect their children.

“Unfortunately, our kids are seeing a lot of things that we would have never seen growing up and it is affecting life.”

Families can find more tools and resources on Andrea’s website. She also has a discussion book called “creating a tech healthy family” available on Amazon.