Limiting Screen Time for Kids
It’s no secret that technology has touched every aspect of today’s society. From ordering and groceries to advancements in medical procedures, technology’s reach has provided convenience and even saved lives. However, there are also some downsides to technology and that includes overuse in everyday lives. Apex Leadership Company explores the impact of this overuse and how parents can help set healthy examples for their children when it comes to screen time.
In an article on CBSNews.com, the American Heart Association (AHA) warns that kids are spending too much time “in front of screens” and that parents need to “drastically cut the hours their kids are allowed to use their phones, computers, tablets and video games.” So how much is too much? In the article, CBSNews reports that kids and teens between the ages of 8 and 18 are spending more than seven hours a day on average looking at screens. However, the AHA recommends kids’ screen time remain limited to two hours per day, and just one hour per day for young kids ages 2 to 5.
While cutting screen time back that much may seem and feel drastic for those that spend large amounts of time in front of screens, parents can begin decreasing daily limits little by little and trying to incorporate new and different activities to replace the time spent on the screens. Parents can also lead by example — putting their own devices away for special family time including meals or bedtime routines. Those that depend on the TV for “background noise” might consider switching on some music the whole family enjoys.
Parents can also create “technology-free spaces” within the home — such as at the kitchen table or in the dining room. This will encourage that aforementioned technology-free meal time, which can then become a great outlet for casual family discussion at breakfast or dinner.
Timing is also key. An article on ScienceNewsforStudents.org cites a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that reports “blue light” from screens can affect the body’s internal clock and disrupts the body’s natural cycles. The blue light in particular is at fault for making people more alert at night and making it harder for them to fall asleep after being exposed to it. It’s advised to shut down screen time two hours before bed to ensure the body can get the good rest it needs.
Another way to help limit screen time is not to change the routine itself, but the habit. For example, during the summertime if kids are using screen time as a way to wind down, instill another habit such as reading a book, listening to (or playing) music, or playing a board game. If they are using it as a way to connect with friends (via text or social media), parents can help encourage playdates and get togethers so kids can return to connecting the old-fashioned way — face to face.
All in all, it’s important for parents set the guidelines and the right examples for proper screen time usage for kids. Yes, some summer days might just include lounging around watching movies or binging a Netflix series, but it’s important to balance those days with a day of swimming, checking out a local museum or getting a bunch of neighborhood kids together to play tag or hide and seek.