Screens are everywhere, but we as parents need to do our best to moderate our children’s use of devices. This includes televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones. Too much screentime can lead to many problems including but not limited to: sleep issues, behavioral problems, developmental delays, attention problems, and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages children under the age of 18 months to use media. Between the ages of 2 to 5, they recommend only an hour a day. For everyone, it is recommended to encourage healthy habits and limit screens (e.g., mealtimes, after tantrums, in the car, social outings, before bed, in the bedroom, in the bathroom).
The first step – You can be the first example of proper screen usage to your children. If needed monitor and control your own usage.
Your children are most likely already using screens. The first step is to learn how frequently they are using them and how long they are using them. After this it is best to set limits and monitor the content. If you haven’t introduced screens to your child yet, or their screentime is very limited, now is a good time to lay a solid foundation for healthy screen habits. Encourage your children to participate in healthy outdoor play, games, crafts, or other screen-free activities they find interesting. Another powerful weapon against screen addiction is to model healthy screen usage yourself. Showing your children that you enjoy activities away from screens, interacting with them without your phone out, and putting your own devices away at the end of the day are all great ways to model self-moderation.
You might be here because you’ve realized that your child has a problem. It might be with a phone, video games, or a tablet. Perhaps you’ve noticed your child is moody, argumentative, or increasingly irritable when you ask them to put their device away. You are not alone!
You may be feeling guilt around your child’s screen use habits. Maybe you regret buying the phone, or you rely on screens to keep your children busy long enough to take a shower or make dinner. Whatever the path that led you here, don’t let guilt keep you from taking action now. Here are some simple steps to help you get started:
- Be transparent with your children about your own screen use. Share with them your own struggles and limits you might set on yourself.
- Research apps and other tech tools listed below to help you set boundaries on screentime.
- Consider an evening or day away from screens for the whole family.
- Don’t be afraid to take the devices away and start fresh after a couple weeks. Check the resources below for more information on screen detox.
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