Parents may be concerned with the amount of screen time their child is engaging in with summer upon us and school structure gone. Children turn towards technology to relieve restlessness and boredom. Studies completed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) show that children and adolescents between the ages of 8 to 18 use considerably more screen time than the recommended two hours per day.
According to the AAP’s website, excessive screen time can cause attention problems, social behavioral changes, sleep or eating disorders, school difficulties and obesity. Furthermore, internet and cell phone use can provide opportunities for risky behaviors. Below are five guidelines for decreasing these risks and managing screen time this summer.
Create a technology management plan together as a family.
Discuss a plan that the family can agree on. Set priorities and expectations for screen time rather than strictly monitoring minutes. Have your child complete chores, read, or exercising before screen time is allowed. Get your child to buy into the plan by offering healthy alternatives. You can also discuss the negative effects of excessive screen time.
Start the morning out right.
Don’t allow screen time first thing in the morning. Create a morning routine which may include eating breakfast, making the bed, feeding the dog, physical activity, reading, picking up their room or completing another chore. Studies show that the beginning of the day is the most productive; therefore, take advantage of this time and get the day started right.
Structure their days.
Plan daily activities for your child. After their morning routine is complete, give your child a choice of fun activities that they can do outside or that will keep them active and creative. Such as, going to the park, swimming, arts and crafts, sports, baking, or socializing with friends. Click this link for more great ideas to fill their days.
Avoid eliminating screen time.
This is one battle not worth fighting and it is bound to fail every time. While screen time should be limited, it shouldn’t be forbidden. Instead, find productive screen activities. Learning games or apps break-up their screen time between mind-numbing games/entertainment and are more stimulating activities.
I cannot say enough how important consistency is with implementing any change. Make sure to stay consistent with the agreed upon plan and to follow through with any consequences. Your child will push back in the beginning, but they will become more accepting of your authority when they see that you are serious about the change.
Written by Ashley McMann