Limiting Screen Time
Posted on September 28, 2021 by CHS
While the use of electronic devices in our everyday lives can make things convenient, it can also affect family dynamics. Families may struggle with managing the relationship between adults, children, and screens. The combination of unlimited entertainment, peace and quiet, and your child’s joy, all in the palm of your hand, is a temptation that many families find difficult to resist. Devices are everywhere and it is commonto see people using them in public spaces. Whether it is for scheduling events, education, work, health, or entertainment, these devices are integral to our daily lives. However, the negative effects of screen time on children, especially at an early age, may lead to issues with their social and emotional development and physical health. And although there are educational programs available for viewing, nothing can replace the learning experiences and relationship benefits that come from human interaction. Below are some facts about the effects of screen time as well as helpful ways to take breaks from electronic devices.
Screen Time Facts
- All digital devices emit a blue light that can disrupt sleep and damage the eyes over time, particularly because we hold these devices close to our face for extended periods of time.
- Research has shown that screen time reduces an infant’s ability to develop empathy by impacting their ability to interpret facial expressions and non-verbal cues.
- The constant stimulation of images and audio on screens reduces a child’s ability to absorb and process information. This impacts the child’s ability to concentrate and focus because their attention span has become accustomed to rapid motion.
- Too much screen time can lead to a variety of impediments such as: eyestrain, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, neck/shoulder/back pain, and reduced physical activity.
Tips to Reduce Screen Time
- Set a screen time schedule. This works well for younger children, as they are more receptive to routine and setting a schedule allows them to regulate their own activity.
- Utilize screen time apps that allow you to track and set time limitations on device usage.
- Place devices in a closed container when not in use to discourage over-checking your devices. Turning off your device’s app notification alerts will also help reduce device usage.
- Open a discussion the next time your child asks to use a device. Ask them to explain why they would like to use a device. Starting a conversation, rather than issuing a quick response, allows your child to think about why they are using technology and respond about their device usage.
- Make screen time an earned privilege. Show your child that screen time is not a right and is something to be valued rather than over-indulged.
- Lead by example by engaging with your children. Participating in unplugged activities together from an early age will hopefully make putting down the devices easier. This way, instead of automatically turning to the phone for entertainment, children might be more inclined to consider one of the other activities that they have learned from you, such as arts and crafts; movement, exercise, and dance; listening to music; chatting together; creative writing and storytelling; and playing tabletop games.
To learn more about screen time and children, please see the following resources: