Screen Time

Drew Barrymore Is No Screen Time Snob — But Her Boundaries Make Perfect Sense

Drew Barrymore seems to have found something that really works for her kids.

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Man, our parents had it easy. They didn’t have to deal with smartphones, setting rules and guidelines for social media, setting up kid-friendly streaming services, or the constant debate over whether or not your kids are old enough for personal electronics. Most of us are parenting in totally new territory. Many of us have set rules that have turned out to be disasters. In other words, most of us are adjusting those guidelines as we go. But Drew Barrymore seems to have found something that works for her — and it makes total sense.

In a recent interview with Better Homes & Gardens for its September issue, the talk show host and mom of two kids — 10-year-old Olive and 8-year-old Frankie — opened up about the rules she has in her house regarding screen time and personal electronics.

For her, screens aren’t the issue; she has many of them in the home. "We watch a ton of movies and shows, so I'm not judging anyone about screens," she shared.

The issue comes in for her when screen time isn’t shared. "But when it comes to my kids, I'm not a huge fan of personal electronics, like iPads."

Barrymore said that during the pandemic, her kids were in remote school, and personal electronics became necessary. “During the pandemic when schools were virtual, we were forced into all being on our separate devices, and I didn't like it,” she said.

But now that they’re not in the swing of remote school from the pandemic, she’s shifted back to no personal electronics for Barrymore’s kids. “Now, I keep the iPads locked in a safe, and they only come out for special occasions."

Barrymore isn’t alone in her feelings about electronics and raising kids. According to a 2020 survey of more than 3,500 U.S. parents conducted by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of parents do think that parenting has become more difficult over the years — and point to digital technology being a big factor.

"Some of the most common responses tend to stress the impact of digital technology (26%), the rise of social media (21%), and how access to technology exposes children to things at a young age (14%)," the survey notes.

For Barrymore, it’s not necessarily the screen time or technology she doesn’t like when it comes to her parenting guidelines. It seems to be more specifically to personal electronics, where the kids would have their noses on their own devices, sitting in the same room but not interacting with each other, or even going into their own rooms to use their electronics without being social.

"I'd rather that the three of us all pile into my bed and watch together," Barrymore admitted.

For other celebrity parents, social media is more a concern of screen time for their kids, including Eva Mendes, who has her own rules for her kids.

As a mom to two kids, daughters Esmeralda, 8, and Amada, 7, whom she shares with her longtime partner, Ryan Gosling, Mendes has shared that guidelines at their house dictate their kiddos are too young to access the internet. And, although she’s OK with her kids using an iPad, they are only permitted to use or watch downloaded content.

The reality is that no one is doing it 100% right all the time, and we’re all navigating this together, doing the best we can. The research we do have regarding screen time use and kids is clear: waiting as long as possible before introducing kids to the online world, like Mendes and Gossling do, and having strict guidelines around its usage like Barrymore does, is good parenting. It follows what the leading organizations recommend regarding screen time use — such as the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, World Health Organization, Common Sense Media, and The American Academy of Pediatrics.