This is a sponsored post
Today’s parents all face a common challenge— managing screen time. We’re savvy enough to know that screen addiction can impact a child’s social development, school performance, and even their safety but how do we protect our children when we live in a screen-obsessed culture? With social media and texting being central to our kids’ social experience, phones seeming line an extension of their hands, and technology being a critical learning tool in today’s classrooms, it’s increasingly difficult for our tweens and teens to unplug. Fighting screen addiction is ongoing challenge especially as today’s kids are able to access digital devices at a very young age.
You’ve read the research and you’ve seen the numbers but the statistics don’t lie:
- According to the NYTimes, an average 8- to 10-year old spends nearly 8 hours a day with a various media. Older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.
- More than half of 12- to 17-year olds send and receive 60+ text messages a day. (NYTimes)
- Teenagers send an average of 34 texts a night AFTER they get in bed, contributing to sleep deprivation. (NYTimes)
- PEW Internet Research found 92% of teens go online daily. Of these teens, 24% are online “almost constantly.”
- Psychology Today has conducted several studies showing that internet & gaming addictions can lead to atrophy in areas of the brain that govern executive function.
Clearly there is a problem and we need to do something about it, starting in our homes first. Here are 7 practical ways parents and kids can work together to fight screen addiction in your home to lead a more balanced lifestyle.
Acknowledge that there is a problem
Parents who have their devices constantly in front of their noses need to take a step back and examine how their kids are using screens and acknowledge that there is a problem. Whether you’re on your phone, laptop, or tablet for work or checking social media, your kids notice.
Talk about the various kinds of screens in your home
So many times kids just reach for their devices without thinking about how time in front of it, and the many other screens they’re in front of, adds up. My almost 13 year old, Emily, is in front of a variety of different kinds of screens a day. At school, she logs into Chromebooks to work on class assignments in Google Classroom, codes on a desktop machine in her website development class, comes home and does homework by logging into her Google Classroom account, asks her friends homework questions via group text messages, watches her favorite shows on a tablet via Netflix Streaming, and reaches for her Kindle Paperwhite to read before going to bed.
In the course of the day, Emily’s experience isn’t any different from other tweens and teens her age. It’s important for kids understand that televisions, iPods, Kindles, educational tablets, and our smartphones all have screens and count towards screen time.
Discuss what a healthy media balance looks like in your home
Discuss how balancing screen time with the time your kids spend doing extra curricular activities, interacting with friends, reading, and engaging in other hobbies is just as important as making sure you eat a balanced diet. Make sure your kids realize that screens include television, computer, tablets, gaming systems, and smartphones as you figure out how much cumulative screen time is right for your child and family.
Set a good example
If a healthy media balance in your home involves putting your devices down and devoting your undivided attention to your kids, then do it. Kids learn by example and examining your habits. Since they mimic what they see, it’s a harsh look in the mirror about how we engage with screens. It’s also pretty difficult for us to expect that our kids will put down their phones when we are rarely without ours.
Acknowledge that not all screen time is bad
The next time your child is on their device, ask them to give you a tour of what they’re doing. If you take the time to sit down with them, you might realize that what they’re doing in front of that screen isn’t just bad. Not all screen time is the same, especially if you’re using your screen as a learning tool and interacting with highly engaging websites but it’s still important to monitor screen time to know what they’re doing.
Know about the other risks associated with screen addiction
Screen addiction to modern technology is an issue as are the growing number of concerns that go along with it. Safety concerns that come from sexting, online predators, and ability to access adult content are real risks. There are also growing concerns about the blue light that comes from smartphones, tablets, television, and even CFL and LED lighting that results from the amount of time that kids are spending on their devices. Parenting in the digital age requires knowing about blue light and how it causes digital eye strain with symptoms that include tired, sore eyes, headaches and trouble focusing. For more information about blue light, visit my What Parents Need to Know About Blue Light post.
The conversation about screen addiction and safety isn’t a one-and-done talk. It’s an ongoing one that parents need to re-visit constantly as their kids grow older. TeenSafe’s free Parenting Guide to Tech Safety features great tips on how to safeguard our families in the digital age and their toolkit to #FightScreenAddiction is full of facts that can help start the conversation about screen addiction in your home.
Screen addiction is turning into an epidemic but each and every one of us who is parenting in the digital age needs to take charge of what is happening in our homes by being aware, knowledgeable, and talking to our kids in a way that acknowledges that we understand that devices are part of their world but we just want them to be balanced. For more information and resources to help you and your family #FightScreenAddiction, visit TeenSafe.
This post was sponsored by TeenSafe but all opinions are my own.