Humans and their smartphones aren’t a healthy combination. This is no longer disputed and indeed the American Academy Of Pediatrics warns to limit high-intensity high-quality digital media screen time to an hour a day for young children. Brain scans have shown that there is significant premature thinning in the cortex.
Strong research has been coming in over the last several years, suggesting that looking at screens for hours a day can have some serious health and mental health consequences. Even some of the developers of these products have admitted guilt about their creations, and confessed that they don’t even let their kids use them.
One new study finds that time spent on screens is linked to not-so-great shifts in brain connectivity, while reading is linked to more beneficial changes.
Another recent study found that the brain chemistry of kids who fell into the category of smartphone or Internet addiction was different from that of non-addicted kids. In particular, changes were seen in the reward circuits of the brain, in the ratio of the neurotransmitter GABA to other neurotransmitters. (Interestingly, these changes generally reversed when the teens went through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for their addiction.) And other research has reported that cells in one of the reward areas of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, are activated when participants view Instagram pictures with more “likes,” which again suggests that social media use can tap into addiction pathways.
All this information is tricky for parents to weigh in on because some claim that screen time can negatively impact the development of language and social skills, wreak havoc on a child’s sleep, and cause stress, anxiety, and aggression, while others focus on all of the positives, like the development of motor skills and coordination, increased creativity and expressive language, and better communication with family and friends.
No matter what side of the debate you fall on there’s no getting around the fact that everything we do in this modern world of ours is done digitally. Maybe instead of avoiding electronic use, we should set boundaries that are healthy for our kids.
Pros and Cons of Screen Time for Kids
PROS OF SCREEN TIME FOR KIDS
- In emergencies helps kids stay safe.
- It aids in kids staying in contact with friends and family.
- Games and apps can help develop a child’s motor skills and coordination
- Can increase creativity and expressive language, especially in children who have fine-motor challenges that make traditional writing challenging
- Offers a way for nonverbal children to communicate
CONS OF SCREEN TIME FOR KIDS
- Parents and caregivers don’t monitor what their kids are being exposed to.
- It causes sensory overload in some children.
- It can increase stress and anxiety.
- Decreases the development of social skills.
- Keeps kids sedentary.
- It can cause aggression in some kids.
- Can negatively impact sleep
- Exposure to social media can lead to an unhealthy body image
How Much Is Too Much Screen Time for Kids?
Unfortunately, there is no real definition here. It really depends on the child and where they are in the developmental spectrum of things. Maybe they have a disorder such as Autism or ADHD or maybe they are really young in which case they should only be having an hour of screen time at the age of 18 months on up.
If you want to know how to limit screen time for kids, I’ve shared my best tips below!
- You set the example– be a good role model for your kids. Our children watch our every move. If you’re on social media for hours on end then why can’t they be? On the other hand, if you’re just checking your email briefly or spending some time decompressing from a stressful day and you spend a few moments online on say Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram that’s perfectly acceptable. Get into the habit of enforcing screen-free time throughout the day to engage with your family, and be more purposeful with how you’re using your electronic devices around your children.
- Lay down ground rules and enforce them- have a family meeting to discuss your concerns and worries and ultimately what your decision about their screen time should be but do it in such a way that you’re making them part of the decision-making process on what’s best for them. Explain the dangers of too much screen time, ask them how they’re using their electronic devices, and come up with some ground rules together.
- Set daily limits of time- If you’re worried your little one is spending too much time on their electronic devices, another great tip is to impose a daily time limit. For example, you may only allow one hour of screen time after school on weekdays, and 2 hours on weekends and holidays after homework and chores have been completed. There are plenty of apps available to help you enforce these time limits.
- Set-up parental controls- As I mentioned earlier there are plenty of apps out there to help you see what’s going on when your little one is online and to limit the amount of time spent online. This is super helpful when you’re not able to closely monitor what’s going on with your child.
- Reward your child- Use screen time as a reward either extra time or certain shows. This can be super motivating when they are trying to earn these privileges.
- Consider naming certain zones in your home as electronics-free- for instance, we talked about screen time and how it interferes with sleep earlier. Maybe make a certain time in the evening a no electronics time and say a certain area of your home like the bedrooms a no electronics zone.
- Encourage other activities- it’s so easy to use tablets and phones as babysitters for our children. This is so harmful because it leads to childhood obesity due to inactivity. Screen time does this to all our children. It’s time to encourage more physical activity like sports or playing outside just anything to get away from the screen- anything to counter the effects of being sedentary. Get into the habit of organizing fun activities that get your kids away from their screens.
If you want to know how to limit screen time for kids, I hope the tips and ideas in this post prove useful to you! Remember to educate your children and include them in the decision-making process, to be a good role model, to set limits, and encourage activities without screens as often as possible!
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Welcome. I’m Kelli and I’m really glad to meet you. I’m an adoring wife to my soulmate and mother to four precious kiddos. I’m on a mission teaching others what I’ve learned so far in this crazy thing called life. I just love love love being a mommy and next, I’m crazy about blogging and it is my fondest wish to create that same sense of joy in all those who visit my site. I am here to teach others how to do a bunch of things related to family, faith, family fun, fabulous finds for home and family, and financial freedom through the art of blogging and creating digital products. Stick with me and I’ll have you sitting pretty on top of your own domestic and blogging empire! Enjoy!:)