Today children spend more time on screens than ever before. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) research found infants as young as six months were using their parents’ smartphones or tablets to watch shows. School-age kids spend between four to six hours using screens a day. By the time they reach their teens, kids spend an average of seven to nine hours a day using screens–texting, checking social media, playing video games and watching shows. This screen time doesn’t include the necessary homework time, which involves electronic devices.
Spending too much time on devices can damage your child’s mental and physical health. Here’s how to help your child by setting screen time limits in their life.
Research has found a link between those children who log an abundance of time on screens and those who get insufficient sleep and poor grades. Additionally, studies have shown a higher risk of obesity for children who spend more time on devices, as they’re not getting routine exercise.
As children age, increased screen time contributes to worsening effects on a teen’s mental health. Teens are more likely to develop depression if they’re in front of a screen for seven or more hours a day. Thankfully, children and teens can improve their emotional and physical health by reducing screen time.
One of the most common physical ailments your child might experience is eye fatigue. With extended staring at a screen, muscles around your child’s eye might get tired from continuous use. Your child might experience tension headaches centered around the eyes and forehead. Because individuals blink less frequently when they study on a digital screen, this could further contribute to eye fatigue and lead to symptoms of dry eye.
To help your child, you’ll need to monitor their screen time and set appropriate limits. Consider using an interactive media time calculator to give you a clear picture of how much time your child spends on daily activities. Having a better sense of where your child spends their time will help you understand how you need to set limits in their life. You can also put the schedule into writing, so your child will understand how their new day will look and that they’ll no longer have free access to their devices.
As you go about enacting your screen limits, you’ll want to keep all devices out of your child’s room. If your child already has a computer or TV in their room, you’ll want to move it out. If they don’t have one yet, fight the urge to move it into their room. Set a rule to charge all devices downstairs overnight. Explain to your child this rule is to help them sleep better and be healthier.
It might be a difficult transition at first. However, this is an excellent rule to see through. The bottom line is children with devices in their room end up having more screen time than the kids who don’t, just by the very nature of the electronic device is present and easy to use.
It’s crucial to stay updated with what your child is viewing, playing or reading on the internet. This may seem like an impossible task, but if you remain in regular conversation with your child, you can ask them about their current gaming interests or favorite YouTube star.
Additionally, keep your TV in a public place to check what your child is watching and monitor how much time they’re spending in front of the screen. Consider limiting entertainment time to two hours a day and help your child keep track with a simple alarm clock or the alarm on your phone.
If you have a desktop computer, keep it in a public place so you can keep an eye on your young children. If your children are using laptops or tablets, encourage them to use them in a public place so you can monitor them. To limit their screen time, you can install a software program that turns off the screen at certain intervals, which will force your child to take breaks. Consider a program that locks the screen once an hour.
To help your teen navigate social media, you can friend them on all accounts. You’ll want to become familiar with the nuances of Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok to stay up to date and monitor their online presence. Additionally, talk to your child about being a responsible online citizen and remind them of their digital footprint. The internet remembers all–comments they make will be accessible for the foreseeable future.
When you encourage your child to take regular screen time breaks, they will have better physical and emotional health. They’ll also learn to be a responsible online citizen.