Parent-Child Interaction: Limiting Screen Time
With the children home for summer, filling the day with fun activities may feel daunting. In order to keep the children occupied, screen time may be increased. Although an extra show may not seem harmful, TV hours can add up quickly. Be cognitive of the total amount of screen time your children watch in a given day. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests one to two hours of screen time at most on a daily basis. For children under the age of two, they recommend avoiding screen time all together.
Negative Effects of Screen Time
- Let kids be kids. iPhones, iPads, video games and television were all invented to entertain children by stimulating their attention. These technological advancements eliminate the need for children to use their own imagination. When kids are watching TV or playing video games, they are missing out on all the activities geared towards learning and discovering such as drawing, playing outside, pretending, and crafting.
- Food Cravings. Screen time is linked to childhood obesity. Commercials and product placement can cause children to crave junk food. Also, allowing snacking in front of the television may promote mindless overeating.
- Sleep problems. Lots of hours spent in front of screens can cause irregular sleep schedules, especially if screens are allowed in the bedroom. All screens should be turned off an hour before bedtime.
- Bad behavior. With elementary children, behavioral problems and violence may arise due to excess screen time. If the shows or video games are not monitored, they may contain inappropriate behaviors. Children can become desensitized to violence or other bad behaviors. They may think it is acceptable to use violence to solve problems. Some TV shows glamorize the ‘mean kid’, teaching children that bullying others is cool.
- Academic Problems. All children would rather watch TV or play a video game instead of completing their homework. If they are given that choice, their academic performance will suffer. Parents should be wary of allowing devices or televisions in the bedroom if that is the designated homework spot.
Tips to Limit Screen Time
1) Create rules. Eliminating screen time all together may not be realistic for your family, but controlling the total hours is possible. Set boundaries for when your children can watch a show or play a game. Consider checking if homework is completed before the TV is turned on or have a set time of day your children can watch their show.
2) No electronics in the bedroom. As mentioned above, electronics in the bedroom can disrupt a child’s sleep patterns and affect academic success. Also, it is hard to monitor TV time if it is available in their bedrooms.
3) Eliminate background TV. Screen time should be a scheduled activity that requires their full attention. Always having the TV playing in the background will prompt endless screen time. Children will have a hard time focusing on their activity if the TV is on.
4) Model good behavior. If screens are only allowed at certain times of the day, that means for the parents as well! Parents and caregivers should be following the screen time rules for the children as well as themselves.
5) Stay consistent. The minute you allow an extra show here or there, the rules are no longer established. Try to stick to your original plan. Offer other fun activities for your children to enjoy instead of screen time.
It is never too late to establish rules about screen time. Turn off the TV and PLAY!
Mayo Clinic Staff. "Children and TV: Limiting Your Child's Screen Time." Mayo Clinic. © 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research., 16 Aug. 2013. Web. 08 June 2016.