From TVs to tablets, digital screens have become an integral part of our daily lives. But however convenient technology makes certain things, you can have too much of a good thing. Limiting screen time for kids is important for keeping them healthy and well rounded. That may be easier said than done, but these tips can help you make a plan to cut back on screens.
1. Learn Why Limiting Screen Time is Important
If you’re going to limit how much time your child can spend watching screens, you should probably have the facts on why it’s important. That way you can explain to your kids why you’re making rules about when they can use their tablets, phones, and computers. Spending too much time watching screens and using media is bad for mental, behavioral, and physical health.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), excessive screen use has been linked to the following health and behavior problems:
- Sleep problems
- Poor school performance
- Risky online behaviors
2. Learn How Much is Too Much
Before you can make rules limiting screen time, you need to know what the limits should be. The general consensus is that screen time for kids should be limited to about two hours a day.
3. Keep Track of Screen Time
Once you set rules about how much time kids can be watching screens, make sure you actually keep track of that time. Many phones and devices have settings that allow you to either keep track of or even limit the amount of time kids can spend on certain apps. Or there’s the old fashioned way of doing things where you just tell kids they can use their device for a certain amount of time and then take it back when that time is over. That’s pretty easy.
4. Schedule Screen-Free Time Each Day
In order to encourage your children to engage in screen-free activities, set aside time each day dedicated to things like physical activities, reading, crafting, or another hobby. Setting up a routine that includes time where media is not allowed will help kids form healthier habits when it comes to screens.
5. Make a Plan for the Entire Family
When limiting screen time, it’s important to make a plan as a family. Talk to your kids about what shows and videos they want to watch and which games they want to play that require screens. Agree on what they can watch and enforce time limits. The AAP has a helpful guide for making a Family Media Use Plan on their parenting site.
6. Cut Off Screen Time Before Bed
Despite the way many people do things, it’s widely agreed that TVs, computers, tablets, and even smartphones shouldn’t be kept in the bedroom. It’s recommended that screen use be stopped at least an hour before bed, so having screens in the bedroom is counterproductive and will just tempt children to use them.
7. Turn Off Screens During Other Activities
A lot of us are used to having the TV on in the background as we go about other tasks around the house. Whether you always have the news on or keep reruns on a loop to keep you company while eating dinner or doing chores, it’s best that you get rid of that habit when you’re limiting screen time for your family. Screens in the background can distract children (and adults) from what they should be focusing on. For instance, you shouldn’t be eating in front of the TV or computer because you can fall pretty to mindless snacking and eat more than you need to.
8. Walk the Walk
You probably know that one of the best ways for parents to enforce rules on things like limiting screen time is to lead by example. Breaking your child’s addiction to screens is also an opportunity to decrease your reliance on devices.
Make an Appointment
The board-certified pediatricians and staff at Wake Forest Pediatrics are dedicated to providing quality care to patients in Wake Forest and Knightdale. Our comprehensive approach focuses on teamwork and open communication with patients and parents. If you have questions about your child’s health and development, call our Wake Forest office at 919-556-4779 or our Knightdale office at 919-266-5059 to make an appointment.