Are you a distracted person? A distracted parent? I am so guilty of this and am working on getting better. So, I thought I would share 10 Tips To Limit Kid’s Screen Time.
When I was growing up and when most of my kids were little we didn’t have instant internet access, or cell phones and tablets that do everything. It made it at lot easier not to be so distracted.
I carry my phone everywhere I go, it is on my nightstand at night, on my desk during the day and if I am walking anywhere it is in my hand. It dings, and beeps, and vibrates all day alerting me to different things, emails, texts, Facebook messages, phone calls, calendar events, and much more.
We are raising distracted kids, too. We give them our phones, and tablets, and even buy them tablets of their own! My 3 year old grandson has his own tablet a Nabi. While I do think they can be helpful in keeping kids entertained and actually in learning through games and educational apps, as well as helping develop their motor skills, I think like anything too much of a good thing can be bad. Besides being distracted and unable to focus on things outside of their “screens”, the fact that they are spending more and more time inside playing games that require very little movement often leads to childhood obesity that has become a terrible epidemic!
So, the easy solution is to limit their screen time, right? Limit the computer, tablet, phone, and TV time, all good things, but, we have to replace that with something else, or else they become bored, whine and we give in. We often say to them, “When I was a kid I played outside and rode my bike…”, but, have we taught them how to do that? Have we taught them how to play by themselves, or “outside”, do they even know what “go outside and play” means? We did. We found things to do, because we didn’t have the screens that fill our time now. Also, and this is the hard part, we lead by example, which means limiting our own screen time, right?
So we see the problem, how do we handle it well?
First we need to find out how much is too much:
According to Scripps.org, “The average 8-10 year old in the U.S. spends around eight hours per day in front of a screen. Teens may spend as many as 11 hours per day. Many children spend more time interacting with media than they spend sleeping or going to school.”
I know that as a homeschooling Mom of 4 people often “worried” that my kids would be unsocialized. I believe there is a far greater chance of kids being unsocialized due to excessive screen time than due to homeschooling.
To say we are just going to eliminate screen time for our kids is probably not going to work out well for us. We never “grounded” our kids because that just makes friction and negativity. If they were grounded (or if we eliminate all screen time) they would be hard to live with, gripey, whiny, and finally we would give in, so we decided grounding was not the way to go. I think we would end up with the same problem if we tried to eliminate screen time altogether
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Communications and Media:
- Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.
- Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices.
According to Scripps.org, Exposing children to television and the Internet before the age of two can also set a bad precedent for future media viewing habits.”
Here are suggestions for cutting down your kids screen time:
Remove TV’s and computers from children’s rooms.
That will give you better control over how much and what they are watching on TV or the internet.
No eating during screen time
We all know we are more likely to eat more while watching TV or playing a game on the internet. This sets kids up for bad habits in their adult lives.
No Screens during dinner or homework
Dinner is a great time to be together as a family and talk and interact with one another (socializing). Screens are a big distraction during homework even if someone else is watching and not the person doing homework.
Spend time playing with your kids
Board games, outdoor play or walking, bike riding gives them and you exercise and fresh air. Did you know that there is a large percentage of vitamin D deficiency in the US? Because everyone is inside on their “screens” and not outside in the sun. To remedy this my personal Dr recommends 15 minutes a day outside. Your body naturally creates vitamin D when exposed to the sun.
Keep track of screen time and try to spend the same amount being active
This will help to develop lifelong habits of being active and time management
Set an example
Cut down your own screen time (enough that the kids notice, too)
Use the parental controls on your DVR/Cable and computer
You can limit their time on the computer and TV with parental controls, you can also block access to things they shouldn’t watch alone, or before you have had the chance to screen it.
Turn off the TV and other screens when the alotted time or show is over
Once your activity (game, show, video) is over turn off the screen and do something else.
Be sure to talk with your kids about what they watched or what they read online, it’s a great way to keep the lines of communication open all of their lives, if you can enjoy the same shows, movies, and things on the internet.
Make a screen time schedule
Make a time limit discuss how they plan on to spend that time and then adhere to it. My kids ALWAYS thrived much better on a schedule than not.
Don’t allow screen time within an hour of bedtime
That time should be for relaxing and winding down.
Do you find that your kids or you are distracted by screen time? What advice do you have?