How to Avoid Too Much Screen Time for Children and Teenagers
How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?Many will say that children and teens have already reached the “too much” point. In fact, one study by Common Sense Media found that tweens (ages 8-12) spent a little more than four hours a day with some sort of screen, while teens (ages 13-18) spent a whopping six hours and 40 minutes of screen time a day — and that excludes using media for school or homework. An older study revealed that one-third of 12- to 15-year-olds watched television for two hours a day, while another 6.9 percent watched five hours or more a day.
Is Any Screen Time Healthy?By about now, you’re likely ready to enforce some limits on screen time. But, there is also the case of healthy usage. After all, we are living in the Information Age, and where else is there a wealth of knowledge than the Internet?
Screen Time RecommendationsThe American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any screen time — save for perhaps video-chatting — for children younger than 18 months. For children between the ages of 18 to 24 months, use supervised screen time, as they will learn from watching and talking with you. The academy recommends limiting screen time for children aged 2- to 5-years-old to one hour a day.
1. Introduce digital devices when you feel it is appropriate.
Just because every other 12-year-old in your child’s class has a smartphone doesn’t mean he or she needs one as well, especially if you feel like your child isn’t mature enough for that responsibility yet. The beauty of technology is that, as a parent, you can introduce devices to your children when you think they are ready.
2. Teach digital literacy, and practice what you preach.
Preferably, before your child gets his or her hands on a new device, teach them digital literacy and online etiquette. Include a lesson or two about cyberbullying, how to spot it and what to do about it. This also means that you’re your child’s No. 1 example of how to act and react online and with devices. That said, you won’t want to be on your phone or tablet all the time, while telling your child he or she shouldn’t be.
3. Have tech-free areas or times.
The easiest example of this is to ban the use of digital devices in certain areas of the house or during certain activities, such as family meals. Other examples are removing televisions from children’s bedrooms and ensuring your kid charges his or her devices outside of the bedroom. Piggybacking on this tip: don’t use screen time as a problem solver. It’s not there to calm your child, nor is it there to keep your child busy while you complete this or that task. There are healthier ways to satisfy each of those.
4. Encourage unplugged activities.
There’s life outside of your devices! Encourage other activities that will keep your child stimulated mentally (reading, puzzles, etc.) and physically (exercise, sports, games, etc.).
5. Participate in their screen time.
As a parent, you may feel it’s your duty to simply supervise. Better yet, though, is if you participate in your child’s screen time. Is he playing his favorite online games? Play along. Is she watching her favorite shows? Watch with her. You get the idea. Participating not only allows you to monitor but also to interact with your child while he or she is enjoying some of his or her favorite activities.