How much time does your child spend playing video games, scrolling through social media, or browsing the internet? In a 2016 study by Common Sense, “8- to 12-year-olds spend an average of about four and a half hours a day (4:36) with screen media, while teens spend just over six and a half hours a day with screens (6:40).” This is a staggering and highly concerning amount - between 16-27% of your child’s day is spent just in front of a screen! While using electronics has many benefits for education and exercise, the study also found that most of the time spent in front of a screen was to watch TV and videos and to listen to music. For these reasons, limiting your child’s screen time is an extremely important key to helping them live a healthy life. In this article, we’ll be talking about ways to monitor and limit the screen time in your family’s daily life.
Check Your Child’s Screen Time
In this modern day of technology, some electronics can keep track of a lot of things beyond phone numbers and passwords, including the amount of time you or your child has spent browsing the internet or playing video games. The iOS device’s built in Screen Time feature, the PS4’s built-in Play Time feature, and the Android app StayFree are excellent resources that keep track of how much time your child spends on their device, as well as what they do on their device. If you find that your child is spending too much time on their electronics, talk with them about setting limits on their screen time usage.
In addition to keeping track of how much time your child is spending on a screen, many electronics allow you to set time limits. Luckily for parents, most of the major platforms have features for reducing screen time use.
Instructions for Setting Screen Time Limits
Windows 10 Devices (Computers & Tablets)
Limiting Social Media: Spending large amounts of screen time on social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok can be extremely detrimental your child’s health. If your child develops the habit of being on social media for several hours a day, their brain begins to depend on Dopamine, the brain’s reaction to receiving a reward (in this case, a Like, Comment, or Share). This addiction soon becomes similar to that of a drug addict or alcoholic. In addition to the chemical reaction, social media also creates an environment for envy and insecurity. Your child may compare themselves to celebrities with expensive clothing or to their friends who seem to be having more fun than them on a vacation. This have/have-not game is very unhealthy psychologically for your child. For these reasons, we suggest that your child uses social media on a very limited basis.
Create a Common Room for Electronics
As much as your kid may want it, they do not need a TV or Computer in their own room. Try to keep a common room for the family to play on their Xbox’s, Playstations, and computers. By doing so, you can keep an eye on how much your child is playing a video game or watching a movie and direct them off the screens when you feel they’ve been on them for an unhealthy amount of time. You can even set times that the family should be in and out of this room as well. We do realize however, that some household don’t have extra space for a designated electronic room. In this case, check in on your child throughout the day to make sure they aren’t spending too much time in their room on a screen.
Keep Electronics out of the Bedroom At Night
You’ve tucked your kids in, prepared everything for tomorrow, and now you’re lying in bed. Do you reach for your phone to scroll through social media or watch a funny video? Chances are, even if you aren’t, your child may very well be doing that in their own bedroom. By allowing your child to leave their phone or other electronics in their bedroom at night, this gives them the chance to browse the internet or play video games for several hours past their bedtime. This habit alone is unhealthy, and doing so can also cause fatigue the next day at school. As a good rule of thumb, set a time each night that serves as a No Electronics Time, and have your child(ren) place their electronics on the kitchen counter or cabinet for the night, not to be used until the morning. If possible, try to set an example and put your electronics away at this time as well.
It’s All About Keeping a Balance
Video Games, TV, and other screen time activities can be a great form of entertainment and source of bonding for you and your family. What’s important, however, is the balance you instill in your daily routine to help lead a healthy life. Exercise, journaling, meditation, and face-to-face time are all important activities to add to your family’s day. Places like Ukatsu are amazing resources to help your child to create that balance they need between gaming, exercise, and personal development, and it’s also essential that you and your family also practice this balance every day in your household and help set that precedence for their future.