What to Do About Your Child’s Screen-Time: A Glimpse at the Negative Effects of Extended Screen-Time and What You Can Do to Help
By Leah Candland
As a kid, I remember playing outside and being involved in frequent physical activity. I had little to no time with a TV or computer, and tablets and smartphones didn’t exist yet. Many of you can probably relate to that, but our kids live in a very different, screen-saturated reality. Not only is technology more accessible, but the volume of things we are able to do with them seems limitless. Whether it’s social media apps like Facebook, or streaming services like Netflix, it’s easy for our families to lose track of how much time we are spending on our devices. I know I’ve been guilty of this, and sadly this is the case with many kids as well. Rather than spend hours outside, our children are spending countless hours with a screen instead.
A study conducted in November of 2017 found the following connections between screen time and obesity (Robinson, et. al):
- An increase in food consumption while viewing
- Further exposure to marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient based food and beverages
- A reduced amount of sleep
In addition to this, it has also been found that too much screen time is connected to delayed development in children. While the recommended amount of screen time is no more than one hour of high-quality programming for kids, the average kid takes in two to three hours per day (Thompson, 2019).
So, what can you do?
Reduce the amount of time your kids spend in front of a screen
It’s recommended that our kids should spend no more than one hour with a screen each day — and that’s with high-quality programming for kids (Thompson, 2019). Tantrums may happen, so remember to stay calm. It’s important to keep your cool and remain firm. Becoming upset or angry may contribute to even bigger tantrums! Take time to listen to your child, understand and acknowledge their feelings. Once they have calmed down, discuss alternative activities that they can look to when they aren’t allowed to use their devices.
Have a variety of activities for them
It’s important for our children to develop and improve their skills. Whether activities involve physical play or intellectual and creative stimulation, there are a variety of activities that we should be ready to offer our kids. Physical Activities may consist of things such as playing outside in the yard, participating in different sports, or playing different games such as tag or hide-and-seek. Intellectual or creative activities may consist of things such as reading, drawing, painting, or building blocks. It may seem easier to hand them a tablet or turn on the TV, but easier isn’t always better! For more ideas, check out our article Beyond Electronics: Gifts that Teach, Inspire, and Stretch Your Kids.
Take time daily to connect with your kids
It’s important for us to take time to talk to and listen to our kids. Not only does it help them learn how to communicate and improve their social skills, but it can strengthen our relationship with them, giving us a better understanding of our children. Our article Deeply Connecting with Our Kids: Moving Beyond “How Was Your Day?” offers some great ideas of conversation starters you can try out with your kids, such as:
- “I saw the funniest meme today. (Share the meme). What is the funniest meme you have seen this week?
- “If you had to lose every piece of technology except for one thing, what would that one thing be?”
- “What meme do you think best describes you?”
- “If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Why?”
- If you could have dinner with any famous person (dead or alive), who would you pick? Why?”
The more time we invest in our children, the more we can help them. Our kids often mirror our own actions, so it’s important that we lead by example through reducing our own screen time. As we take time to connect with our kids and provide meaningful activities, we not only contribute to their development in a positive way, but can also strengthen our own relationships with them as well.
For more great ideas on how to connect with and strengthen your children, check out our 30 Days to a Stronger Child. It’s a great resource for activities, questions, and ideas on how we can better talk to and communicate with our children!
Or Check out Messages about Me, Sydney’s Story: A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image. An engaging story with great discussion questions at the end, Messages about Me is a great way to instill healthy body image in your child!!
Leah Candland is a wife and a mother to a wonderful daughter. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University – Idaho. She loves spending time with her family and has a strong desire to help parents in building strong, healthy relationships with one another and their children.
Robinson, T. N., Banda, J. A., Hale, L., Lu, A. S., Fleming-Milici, F., Calvert, S. L., & Wartella, E. (2017, November). Screen Media Exposure and Obesity in Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics, 140 (Suppl 2), S97-S101. Retrieved January 29, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769928/
Thompson, D. (2019, January 28). Can Too Much Screen Time Hinder Child Development? Retrieved January 29, 2019 from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20190128/can-too-much-screen-time-hinder-child-development#1