7 Thoughtful Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time This School Year
Electronic devices are beneficial for many things, but one thing they don’t benefit is your child’s development. Unfortunately, many parents use electronics as virtual babysitters, so we need to shed more light on the problem. Phones, tablets and computers have proven to be dangerous devices for the growing mind of a child.
Let’s discuss the dangers of too much screen exposure and some tips for reducing your child’s screen time this upcoming school year.
How Does Screen Time Affect Kids?
According to the CDC, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend over seven hours a day staring at screens. Those seven-plus hours primarily consist of watching videos, playing games and scrolling through social media, with little verbal interaction.
Medical professionals have linked excessive screen time to many troubling issues:
- Lower quality of sleep
- Eye strain
- Shortened attention spans
- Decreased cognitive function
- Increased anxiety and depression
- Decline in academic performance
- Social and emotional impairment
- Obesity from a sedentary lifestyle
No parent wants their children to suffer from these ailments. Here are seven thoughtful ways to reduce your child’s screen time and keep them safe.
Tips to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends minimal to no screen time in children under 24 months. Between ages 2 and 5, screen time should be no more than an hour a day. You get the idea: parents need to minimize their children’s screen time as much as possible to ensure proper mental and physical development.
1. Explain Your Reasoning
Your child might not understand or appreciate your reasons for limiting screen time, but you should explain them anyway. Break down the negative effects of electronics and how the no-screen rule will help them. This discussion should be a dual effort if both parents are in the picture. Getting another close relative involved might also help your child be more receptive.
After a few days of minimal screen time, take note of any behavioral changes. Are they more talkative or playful? Has their academic performance improved? Have they changed their attitudes about the no-screen rule? Keep the discussion going.
2. Don’t Give Them Personal Devices
The worst thing you can do is buy your child a personal phone or tablet. They will grow attached to the device overnight. Every screen in the house should belong to the parents. Keep the passwords secret so they can’t access the devices without permission. This simple strategy prevents your child from sneaking extra screen time.
You also shouldn’t let your child make any personal accounts. Social media use has been linked to many youth mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and strained peer relationships. Besides, there are far better things your child could be doing than scrolling through TikTok and Instagram.
3. Take Them Outside
Kids ought to be outside getting into trouble, not inside getting sucked into their phones. If your child starts complaining about the no-screen rule, take them to a playground or on a nature walk. They’ll forget about the electronics in a few minutes and find something else to do.
Children have vivid imaginations. They always come up with ideas to keep themselves entertained. Phones and tablets are too overstimulating in large doses. They give kids dopamine hit after dopamine hit, making them effectively addicted to screens and indifferent to the world outside.
4. Put Your Electronics in Shared Spaces
You can’t trust your children to make the right decisions by themselves in any other environment, so why leave them alone with unrestricted internet access? During your child’s allotted screen time, make sure the devices remain in the living room and other shared spaces.
Don’t let your kids browse the web without adult supervision. They might make a social media account or stumble upon age-inappropriate content without your knowledge. Once they find something they’re not supposed to see, their curiosity will become harder to contain.
5. Help them Find a Hobby
Hobbies give kids a creative diversion from the use of their phones and tablets. Many hobbies can become a life long pastimes, including photography, magic, cooking, sculpting, pottery, chess, astronomy, and building rockets with a parent. When they do go back online they can use social media to learn and connect with others who are passionate about similar activities.
6. Start and End the Day Right
This advice goes for everyone in the house: don’t use any electronics 30 minutes after waking up or 30 minutes before bed. Let your brain power up and shut down instead of triggering a stress response by scrolling through news articles and social media feeds. Your sleep quality and overall mood will both see noticeable improvements.
7. Coordinate With Parents and Teachers
Your child will be surrounded by screens when they go to school – not the school computers, but other students’ personal phones and tablets. 53% of American kids have their own phones by the age of 11, and that number is only getting higher. You need to coordinate with parents and teachers to make sure your child doesn’t have too much screen time at school.
Ditch the Screens, Enjoy the Real World
Our devices might be entertaining and convenient, but they can be destructive forces on the minds of impressionable children. Ditch the screens this school year and allow your kids to enjoy the real world in all of its beauty. Let their imaginations and personalities shine through instead of getting dulled by screens. Positive change starts today!
About the Author
Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you’ll find her in a yoga class, advocating for her children or whipping up something delicious in the kitchen!