Few Arizona readers have been spared the hype surrounding the recently released game Pokémon Go. The smart phone-based game offers players the chance to track, capture, evolve and battle characters from the popular Pokémon franchise. Adults and children alike have become obsessed with the game, and many spend a great deal of time trying to capture and collect all of the characters. For parents who are strongly opposed to excessive screen time, Pokémon Go is an issue they feel is worthy of a child custody modification.
When one parent is supportive of the child's involvement in this or any other video game but the other parent is strongly opposed, a situation arises that can lead to a great deal of conflict. There is plenty of research available that supports the notion that children of divorce thrive when both parents maintain similar rules and routines in separate households. When it comes to screen time, however, the research is not quite as clear.
Parents who are considering heading back to court to ask for a child custody modification based on one parent's refusal to limit screen time may face an uphill battle. Unless a parent can convince the court that a child's best interests are not being met, it is incredibly difficult to change an existing child custody agreement. Obsession with the latest video game craze is unlikely to meet that legal standard.
Arizona parents who are concerned about the amount screen time their child is getting while at the other parent's home should try to sit down and discuss the issue calmly. It may be possible to reach a compromise through which a child is able to enjoy a certain amount of screen time, while also balancing that time with outdoor or family activities. However, it should be noted that reaching an agreement may not be possible. At the end of the day, Pokémon Go may be a child custody modification fight that is destined to be lost.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Pokemon Go...ne! Can Divorced Co-Parents Protect Kids from Excessive Screen Time?", Bari Zell Weinberger, Aug. 24, 2016