- Why is too much screen time bad?
- How to limit your child's screen time successfully?
The rise of technology has nothing but helped us as beings in the past century. The growth in the technological sector has been nothing if not exponential. There used to be a time when technology was limited to certain sectors and was accessible only to certain people. This was due to the very low supply to demand ratio and the production costs being very high.
Technology has progressed to the point of being a part of our everyday lives so that we cannot function without it. We prefer technology rather than going the analogue way more often than not. If you have to point out the piece of technology you interact with the most, your phone or your computer will be either. Most sectors have used these devices in great capacity for the past decade. Interaction with screens is inevitable. One of the sectors using screens the most is the educational sector.
The pandemic sweeping across the globe forced everything to be online. This included education as schools and colleges could not continue offline due to being prime hubs for infection, holding people upwards of a thousand within their boundaries. Thus learning shifted to the online mode and employed computers as the primary educators, making screen time for kids a necessity rather than leisure and playtime.
Why is too much screen time bad?
1. Effects on physical health
- The usage of screens constantly means lesser physical activity, which means a lack of exercise. Exercising is important to maintain good health.
- Sitting in front of screens ruins and worsens your posture with time. The absence of a good posture can cause many health problems.
- Screens emanate blue light, something that is incredibly bad for your eyes. It causes issues like dryness of the cornea, myopia, etc.
- Prolonged screen exposure can cause headaches and migraines.
- The continuous staring at a screen makes the neck muscles stiff and can cause soreness, aching, atrophy, etc.
2. Effect on mental health
- Too much screen time for kids could delay or stunt mental development and cognitive growth.
- The educational interaction that involves screen usage time affects the learning abilities of your kids.
- The cyberspaces involving interaction with other people might be a site for cyberbullying.
- More than an hour of screen time for children may cause issues like anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, etc
- The involvement of children with screens keeps them from having a healthy and realistic perception of the world.
3. Effect on social skills
- Screen time for kids should be a utility-only time, but it has started evolving into social interactions.
- Texting, video calls, audio call, etc., have robbed children of the skills to interact in social situations that are offline and in real life.
- The ability to express themselves through verbal conversation solely instead of emojis, memes, reaction images, etc., is diminishing with every passing year.
- The lack of exposure to the real world has made kids utterly unaware of reality.
4. Kids' screen time is their preferred interactive activity to communicate with friends and family instead of talking in person.
How to limit your child's screen time successfully?
- How much screen time is healthy? Aside from online education, which is a need that you cannot strike off, how much screen time for kids is healthy? The answer depends on their age, health, pre-existing conditions ( myopia, migraines, bad posture, obesity, etc.), schedules, etc. As a parent, you will have to judge just how much screen usage time is healthy for your kid. It may vary in the case of more than one kid.
- Non-negotiable limits. Once you are sure about how much screen time is healthy for kids, you have to enforce the limits strictly. If there is a 2-hour limit, you do not allow them a minute more. Use tools like digital wellbeing and auto-lock available on phones, tablets, laptops to change the device's settings after a limited time, including locking the device. This will create a solid structure and an infallible system.
- Set up activities that will require giving up devices. This could include lunch/dinnertime, where no devices shall not be allowed. The presence of a machine will immediately exclude the family member from the activity. The sense of exclusivity will create a healthy environment for the kids. It will also teach them to prioritize technology below things like food and family.
- Lead by example. Your child is not likely to form a habit if they see you doing the opposite. If you want to limit screen time for kids, the adults have to do it first. Segregate your workspace and the space where you spend time with family. Set up a schedule that will allow you to be present when you're home.
- Teach them responsibility. Explain why too much screen time for kids is a bad thing. Make sure they understand well why healthy screen time per day is for their benefit and how they can make the best of it, so it does not feel like a punishment. You will not always be around them, which is why they need to be responsible for their health and habits.
- Make them earn it. There is a common problem of screen time for kids becoming their priority, and they happen to ignore their chores, responsibilities, and important things like eating. Tell your kids that they will be granted healthy screen time per day only after finishing specific tasks. This will instill a sense of responsibility and accomplishment because we tend to value things more when we have worked for them.
- Monitor exactly how they use their screen time. This is not an invitation to snoop around your kids' devices or sneak around behind their backs. Instead, you should ask them how they like spending their screen time, so you are aware of their bad habits if there are any like too much social media or playing violent video games.
Although we live in trying times where the ideal scenario of no screen time for kids cannot be a reality, we can still manage the healthy screen time per day for each kid and decide how much screen time is healthy. By not just making kids follow the rules we made regarding screen time usage but instead communicating with them and making them understand what we are trying to protect them from, we can achieve healthy habits quickly.