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How to Manage Screen Time for Children

Parents use to struggle to keep their children inside the house, not the can't get them out!

In an age with ever growing technology, people find themselves using cell phones, laptops, and tablets for hours on a daily basis. Although technology has provided us with numerous ways to network, entertain ourselves, and increase productivity, the use of such technology results in hours of daily screen time. Studies show that increased screen time increases risk of obesity, reduces sleep quality, and negatively impacts one's mental health and attention span. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 2-12 should only have one hour of screen time a day and teens and adults should only have two hours. Although these suggestions may not account for time spent on work related activity and most likely focus on entertainment, it is important to limit one's screen time as much as possible. Below are a few tips on how you can manage the screen time of your children.

One of the many ways you can manage the screen time of your child is by setting expectations for how long you want them to utilize their cell phones, tablets, and television during the day. For example, only using all devices for entertainment purposes for 2 hours a day. It is important to note that these expectations should be realistic, meaning you should gradually reduce the screen time of your child by 15 or 30 minutes a day if they receive 3 hours of screen time or more a day. You can also utilize apps that monitor the screen time of your child on their devices so that you can see how much time they are spending on their laptops, tablets, and phones. Cell phones also have screen time and app limitation resources that can be taken advantage of in order to monitor and reduce the daily screen time of your children.

Another way you can manage and reduce the daily screen time of your children is by encouraging them to go outside! Before smartphones, video games, and streaming services existed, parents struggled to keep their children inside the house, now parents can’t get them to go out! There are plenty of ways your children can entertain themselves outside. Children can entertain themselves by chalking ( drawing on the pavement using chalk ), playing sports or games like hide and seek, freeze tag, or Simon says, the list goes on.

Occasionally, you should also take your children to the park so that they can even interact with other children in person and not virtually. In order to get children outside the house, you should schedule time periods, when the weather permits, where your children aren’t allowed in the house except to get water. By encouraging and leading your children to entertain themselves without technology, their screen time will effectively be reduced. Please keep in mind that when your children are inside they can entertain themselves without using technology. Children can also be encouraged to read and be introduced to board games as well.

Finally, you can manage and reduce the screen time of your child by setting time periods and areas of the house where electronic devices can not be utilized. One of the many reasons why increased screen time impacts sleep quality is due to the blue light such devices emit. When eyes receive such light, it sends a signal to the brain that the body still needs to be awake. This is the reason why increased screen time reduces sleep quality, because our bodies do not easily transition into a restful state after viewing the blue light such devices emit. For this reason, all devices, including television, should not be used 30 minutes or even an hour before bedtime. If you do not believe your child is disciplined enough to not use their cell phone at night, which is an understandable temptation, you can take their devices until morning. Furthermore, you should also have areas without your home where cell phones can not be utilized. For example, the dinner table and kitchen can be areas where cell phone use is not allowed at any time. This will not only reduce your child’s screen time, but will also promote socialization with family members as well. By ensuring your children do not access their devices at night and in certain areas where socialization should take place, you can significantly reduce the daily screen time of your child.

Technology isn’t inherently bad, it has given us the opportunity to communicate, learn, and be productive in ways we never have before. However, like money, technology is a resource and resources can be for our benefit or detriment depending on how we utilize them. Children need guidance and structure in many areas of their lives, and the utilization of their technology is one of them. By managing and reducing the screen time of your children, you will be contributing to the betterment of their emotional, social, physical, and mental well being.

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