Various studies have shown that there are a lot of potential side effects from excessive screen time. Kids experience a decline in both quality and quantity of sleep when they become dependent on their devices. More interestingly, results from studies have found that adolescents who use social media at night – have much poorer quality of sleep.
I think it’s a common problem for most adults – as I frequently get asked by a variety of friends about how to best manage kids screen time, and how on earth we control / limit / reduce the amount of time our kids spend in front of devices…
What I do know however is that most kids who spend too much time on a screen are a complete nightmare when they finally get off their device. Leave your kid on a device all day, and guaranteed they will be the worst they can be when without said screen. Grumpiness, irritability, rudeness, and a general lack of self awareness or emotional control is a common outcome.
More than three hours per day of screen time also inhibits social skills development in our children. When teenagers did not use digital technologies for a few days, they were much better at identifying the emotions of strangers. However, we are seeing an increasing trend of replacing face-to-face interactions with computer-mediated communication.
Spending too much time in front of a screen has an obvious impact on a physical and mental perspective. Too much screen time can lead to a lack of energy, tiredness, reduce desire to get active or outdoors, and as a result – unused energy… then obesity. It can also lead to reduced social skills and behavioural issues in the real world away from their screens.
There’s no one size fits all solution – every child is different, and so are how parents oversee & monitor how much time they have. The harsh reality is that our kids will continue to evolve their use of technology and the internet, and we need to provide them with the digital skills and intelligence that will empower them to convert these risks into opportunities.
Parent tips for managing kids screen time
Fear not – there are some things you can consider & do in order to control your screen time beast!
Below are some parental guiding principles that you might find will help to reduce the amount of screen time your child has:
- Have an agreed limit on how much screen time your child can have each day. As an example, some parents prefer to only allow a set amount of screen time on Friday nights / weekend mornings, whereas others permit shorter times each day after school work or chores are complete – however it really depends on your routine. As kids get older, they may need to use their devices for school home work or other learning related activities anyway, which needs to be considered.
- Use a WiFi hub that enables you to disable / limit internet time. Google Wi-Fi mesh network devices are a great option if you want to do this easily without needing much technical knowledge. You can set routines / schedules to automatically block / allow internet access at set times, or you can stop screen time for family dinners or time together. There are also various parental software solutions that can automatically limit screen time for you too.
- No screens in the bedroom – period! Make sure they only use their devices in a family room or another shared part of the house where parents can be around to guide them.
- Try and set aside some time for fun activities at home away from their screens. Show them that they can still be entertained without an electronic device – unplug and enjoy playing games together, reading, arts and crafts, dancing, writing, drawing or any other creative activity.
- Try to ensure your kids stop using their devices / screens at least an hour before it’s bedtime.
- If possible, avoid letting your child own a smartphone until they are at least 14 years old, or if you do – consider giving them a simple device that is limited in functionality (calls and simple sms only) which can’t be used to get onto the internet.
- Lastly, be a good example to your children – limit the time you spend on a screen in front of them in the evenings and at weekends.
If you need any further info, you might want to read up on the websites relating to screen time below:
Have any war stories or insights into managing your kids screen time?
Feel free to comment below.