The Suits star tells PEOPLE she believes screen time for kids is "not as mind-numbing as we all are afraid it is"

By Jen Juneau and Breanne L. Heldman
July 17, 2018 03:45 PM

Moderation is the key to parenting for Katherine Heigl.

The actress — who joins Suits as a series regular for its upcoming eighth season — chatted with PEOPLE for this week’s issue about her new gig, plus dished a bit on some rules she and husband Josh Kelley think are important when it comes to their three children: Joshua Bishop, 18 months, Adalaide Marie Hope, 6, and Naleigh Mi-Eun, 9½.

“The girls are really into iPads. It’s not good. I need to curtail it, though I have to say, so much of that use is reading,” says Heigl, 39. “They’re reading, they’re playing educational games. I don’t allow them to scroll through YouTube videos and stuff; I put some limits on that.”

“But it’s not as mind-numbing as we all are afraid it is,” she adds of screen time.

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Katherine Heigl and her kids
Katherine Heigl/Instagram

One recent incident put the situation in perspective, as Heigl’s daughters and teenage niece Madison were sitting around the living room, engrossed in their devices.

“I was like, ‘None of us are connecting or communicating,'” she recalls. “And then I went, ‘Oh, wait a minute — Naleigh and Madison are playing Words With Friends against each other, so essentially they’re playing Scrabble, just without the board on the table. Adalaide is coloring on her iPad, Josh is reading the news and I’m reading a book.”

“We’re all doing things that we would be doing to entertain ourselves, we’re just doing them differently than we did them 20 years ago,” the 27 Dresses star points out. “It’s okay. It’s not the end of civilization as we know it, I promise.”

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Heigl tells PEOPLE she doesn’t allow devices at the dinner table (“because we do need to talk to one another, too, and make eye contact”), encourages trips to a local bookstore the family loves and requires the girls to charge their devices outside their rooms at night.

“I don’t allow them in the bedrooms, like, ‘Charge them at night where I can see them,'” she says, joking, “Maybe I should have that rule for my husband.”

Suits season 8 premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network.

For more from Katherine Heigl, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.