Screen Time Management 101: How Much Screen Time Is OK For Your Kids?
While technology and television can have an educational application for your children, there’s always the risk of too much screen time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children should only engage in screen time if they are at least two years old and not for more than two hours each day. But, of course, it’s not always that simple. Here’s your guide managing tech with your tots.
How to reduce screen time
Here are a few ways to reduce your child’s access to screens of any form.
Don’t allow smartphones, social media, TVs, computers, and video games in the bedroom. It is better to monitor the kids’ screen time by having those devices in a shared space within the home.
Abstain from giving your child their own devices such as tablets or smartphones when they’re at home. For communication purposes, a phone may be necessary at a certain age, as well as a tablet for homework. However, do not give your child free reign. Instead, encourage children to come to you or play with other children where possible.
You also shouldn’t use your devices constantly. Lead by example, or your child won’t see the need to self-limit their screen time. It also takes away from bonding time between a parent and child.
Enforce limits. Outline clear, consistent rules so that your child knows what to expect and when to use their devices.
Try to help your kid find a hobby. This tip is one of the best ways to reduce screen time because it shifts the child’s focus elsewhere and alleviates the boredom that drives us to pick up our phones.
A few good, child-friendly hobby ideas include:
- Model building
Model building is becoming a particular favorite among today’s tech-driven tots.
Model building is particularly beneficial, as it helps to relieve stress, enhance a child’s creativity, build a bond with the parent, and cultivate organization skills and work ethic.
You can introduce model building to a child by checking the skill level first. It’s highly recommended to start at level one or two, which are simple kits that allow users to get their feet wet. You want your child to be able to finish the model quickly and successfully to capture their interest for the long term.
Make sure you gather all the tools you’ll need to build the kit, including model glue, sandpaper, paint supplies, and small LED lights for added detail and fun.
Teach your son or daughter the basics of constructing a model, properly following the instructions from start to finish, and allow them to use their critical thinking skills to start building. Guide your little builder, but don’t take the project over–mistakes are okay and present further learning opportunities.
Stick to the design that comes with the kit, at least for the first few sessions. As your children improve, it’s okay to allow them to improvise a bit as they start developing their own passions for the craft.
So why should you invest so much energy into redirecting your children from their tech devices? An overabundance of screen time can have a few adverse effects on your child’s health and development.
Problems with too much screen time
Children are susceptible to the following due to too much time with technology.
Children can begin desiring the foods they see advertised and develop a propensity for eating while watching and using electronics. These children also don’t engage in physical and creative play because of too much screen time.
Irregular sleep patterns
Children are more likely to have trouble with a regular sleep schedule when they have excessive screen time.
Children in elementary school who exceed two hours with the video game, watching TV, on their smartphones, or using a computer are more susceptible to social, emotional, and attention disorders.
Diminished academic performance
Children that constantly spend time in front of a TV, smartphone, computer, or video game, tend to display poor test-taking abilities compared to children that don’t.
Children can become desensitized to violence and accept it as normal behavior due to the constant exposure via music and media.
Before you go
Keeping your child safe from the dangers of too much media stimulation is critical as a parent. You can utilize numerous alternatives to help steer your child in the direction of more wholesome activities and physical play that will facilitate better socialization skills, creativity, and emotional maturity.