September 28, 2017

How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

The Mayo Clinic has linked too much or poor quality screen time to:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep scheduled and shorter duration of sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of social skills
  • Violence
  • Less time for play

But what are parents supposed to do when teachers are having kids use their phones in class and requiring in some cases that phones be used for homework?

The American Academy of Pediatrics had a special symposium in 2016, just to discuss the latest research on the impacts of screen time, social media, etc. The good news is that they have found that kids are doing what they would likely be doing offline while they are online (with notable exceptions) the difference is that it is at a much faster pace. They also found that just like parents before the digital age, it is important for parents to know who their kid’s friends are and to teach them how to interact with their world.

That means you have to get into their world.

That means monitoring the volume of their screen time, limiting their access to the Internet when they are not in the room with you, downloading the apps they have so that you are familiar with them and able to monitor their behavior and how it is used, consider using parental controls to block or filter Internet content. And know that there is no easy or one click answer to this, it will take an investment in your time and energy.

It is also important to note that your child WILL be exposed to something you didn’t want them exposed to on the Internet. Even with the best filters, it is not and if but a when. So that means, you will need to TALK to your kids about what to do when that happens. You will likely need to mention it repeatedly.

Practice what you preach

If you want your kid off their phone for dinner and family time, then be off of yours! If you want your kid to be kind and respectful on the internet then you must model that for them. If you want your child to be diserning about how and from where they disern accurate and usful information on the internet then show them how you do it.

The internet really is a lot like driving. You don’t had keys for a vehicle to a kid who has never been in a car or had a driving lesson. When a young person wants to drive then have been a passanger for a lot of hours, they are shown how to use the safety features and the rules of the road long before they are ever put behind the wheel. The Internet is at least as powerful as a car, let’s take the some safety procaustions.

The truth is that no one can really tell you exactly how much for you kid is too much.  You are their parent, so you know best.  Therein lies the problem... You must be engaged and aware of how it is impacting your kid and setting limits for them.  By setting those limits you are teaching them how to set limits for themselves in the future.

Question.  Do you currently set limits?  Do you know who your child interacts with most?  What apps do they use and why?  If you don’t already know, is it time to find out?

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