How Much Screen Time?
One of the biggest challenges facing parents today is how to reduce screen time. Cellphones, video games, tablets, TV’s and computers are every day objects of entertainment for children of today. Next time you are at the shopping malls you can count the number of young children with their parents cell phone at hand in the stroller.
Here are some other important things kids miss out on when they’re engaging with their screens.
1. Reading Books
Unless your child is using a tablet or computer to read a book or article, time on the screen is time that could be spent reading. One of the best ways to help your child develop a love of reading is by reading to them at an early age. Make reading an important part of your child’s bedtime routine (see sleep chart).
2. Connecting With Parents and Siblings
Once a tablet/TV/cellphone becomes second nature to your child the amount of family takes a major hit when kids and parents allow tech to take over their lives and everyone is staring at a screen instead of engaging with one another. Even at the dinner table, we encourage parents to make it a “tech-free” time. Our Let’s Eat Together placemat helps to encourage conversation at the table.
3. Socializing With Friends
The way kids play and socialize today is very different from previous generations, thanks in large part to all the tech devices they are constantly connected to every day. When kids get together, they may play video games or Instagram or watch a favorite show on a tablet. Older school-age kids who have their own cell phones communicate mainly via text, and other forms of social media (Instagram, Snapchat) Throwing a ball outside, riding a bike outside all tend to take a back seat.
4. Playing Outside
Appreciating nature and getting the benefits of fresh air and exercise is something that’s significantly compromised when kids are staring at a screen. Physical activity is important for kids’ health, and even if your child’s school has an excellent phys ed program—which is increasingly rare as more schools focus on academics at the expense of gym—it’s beneficial for kids’ mental, emotional, and physical health to go outside and run around and play.
While there are many benefits to having tech devices in our lives, such as having a world of information at our fingertips or being able to video chat with grandparents who may live hundreds of miles away, parents must be mindful of the things that are sacrificed if screen time isn’t used carefully and limited. Kids can get a lot out of tech devices, but they need to thrive in the real world, too.