Have you ever thought about how much time your kids spend on “media”? Do you think about how IPads, cell phones, social media, games, and TV are a dominant force in children’s lives? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, young people spend more hours on media per day than they do in school- it is the leading activity other than sleeping.
Today’s children have grown up with a vast array of electronic devices at their fingertips. They can’t imagine a world without smartphones, tablets and the internet. The advances in technology today mean today’s parents are the first generation who have to figure out how to limit or manage screen time for children. It is important for families to manage screen time. Establishing family rules with electronics can help you develop new routines that do not involve technology. Here are tips that will help you limit your child’s screen time to a reasonable, healthy amount:
- Model Healthy Electronic Use– It is important to model healthy electronics use for children. So, before you binge on your favorite Netfilx series, remember to set a good example. Keeping the TV on as a background noise or scrolling through your phone when you have a spare minute teaches your child bad habits.
- Educate Yourself on Electronics– Today’s kids are tech savvy. Most of them know more about electronics than adults do, that’s why it is essential to stay up-to-date on the latest cell phone app or the newest social media craze.
- Use Parental Controls– Protect kids from too much content on TV and online. Research and look for the best parental control for both TVs and online.
- Talk to Kids About the Dangers of Too Much Screen Time– Kids who understand, “It’s not healthy to watch too much TV”, are less likely to break the rules compared to kids who think, “I can’t watch TV because my parents are mean.”
- Obtain Your Childs Passwords– Depending on your child’s age and values, it may make sense to obtain your child’s password to social media and online accounts. Many children lack the maturity needed to handle online problems, such as cyberbullying. it is really important to help your child stay safe. Children have lots of difficulty escaping from bullies in today’s society due to technology. When I left school, in the 80s and 90s you went home and played in the yard, did homework and chores. Kids were able to unplug and enjoy being kids. Fast forward 20 years, and kids stay connected because of electronics. This can be good if they are being kind to one another. It can be detrimental to the child’s health and mental well-being if they are being bullied through text, social media or games.
In addition, consider an occasional digital detox for the whole family. Create a screen free night once a week, or commit to unplugging one weekend a month. This can be good for everyone’s physical and emotional health, as well as your family’s relationships.
If you would like more information about this subject, contact your local extension office.