“It seems everyone is looking at a screen these days” is a common phrase we hear now.
Whether it be young adults reading emails and blasting music on public transportation, children playing with VR headsets on a day off, or toddlers being distracted by a show on a parent’s cell phone so they can finish errands, the increase in screen time is undeniable. Add the fact that colder months are approaching and families will be stuck indoors for longer periods of time for a while.
Cultural and social norms over the past two decades have shifted dramatically in step with technological advancements. All of us enjoy the benefits of entertainment and human connection; it isn’t something to be ashamed about. But how much is too much for young minds?
When tech is used excessively, especially by young children, it comes with some serious health costs-- both physical and psychological. So how can we moderate time spent in front of screens that still allows for some enjoyment?
Model this for your children in your own room: tech-free areas in your home, especially bedrooms. It is hard to monitor how much time children spend gaming or watching Netflix if it’s behind closed doors.
Always wanted to learn how to crochet, paint on canvas, or build something with your hands? Start a group hobby with your children, so that everyone enjoys being critical and creative thinkers.
Bonus? Quality family memories, which is also important for child development! Try setting this time to when your family is used to zoning out in front of the TV.
Time Limits and Reward Systems
Don’t cold-turkey and immediately shift to the opposite extreme by taking all screen time away for good. This probably won’t go well, especially with children or teens who are differently-abled in their behavior.
Try setting a time when they are allowed to watch or surf whatever they want (within reason). For example every weekday, 2 hours between 6pm-8pm, provided they went outside for a half hour after school and completed homework or chores.
This will motivate them to complete the tasks at hand while teaching them time management and delayed gratification.
Try to find at least one thing your family enjoys doing outside to minimize temptation.
Try having a weekly bike ride scheduled, or have them take responsibility for walking pets around the neighborhood. Maybe even hiking to an isolated picnic spot or trail they enjoy.
Physical movement is important at any age for health and longevity! It also helps improve focus, memory, and mood, which are all things that screens deplete over time.
If you find yourself or other family members groggy, lethargic, and glued to Netflix, you might also want to try a supplement to support healthy energy levels and mood with approval from a medical provider.
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Written by Annie-Eliza Stevens