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Online Safety

How Much Screen Time Is Your Child Getting?



Electronics has captured our children’s attention. There are so many ways that kids use electronics: video game consoles, computer games (yes educational ones count), phones with texting and games, social media, handheld games, and tablets.

Effects of Excessive Screen Time:



Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to many harmful effects. Some may include attention problems, school difficulties which decrease school performance, sleep and eating disorders, obesity, poor body image, aggressive behavior, and substance abuse. It can also cause “computer vision syndrome.” Symptoms may include strained, dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. In addition, the internet/social media and cell phones can provide an outlet for wrongful and risky behaviors.

Yet, it’s not just that excessive screen time can lead to all these potential problems; it’s that kids need balance in their lives. Too much screen time means too little of something else, like socializing (in person using their social skills) with friends, physical activity, reading, imaginative play and so on.

How much is TOO MUCH?



A simple way to look at what is too much, is when the use of electronic devices interfere with real life. This might mean sleep issues or it could be social problems at school, but it could be as simple as a kid who can't think of anything else to do but play with electronics. Maybe it is difficult to get a child to participate in physical activities.

Age Appropriate Screen Time:



There are so many various types of electronics children use on a daily basis. Choosing and being careful about what is purchased or allowed is so important. Children shouldn’t be exposed to various types of media that are not age appropriate. There are video games, tv shows, movies, and game apps with ratings. Video games have ratings such as E for everyone, T for teens, M for Mature, A for Adults only. Movies and TV shows have G for General Audience, PG for Parental Guidance, PG13 for Strongly Parental Guidance usually for children 13 and above, R for Restricted, and MA for Mature ratings. Let’s be aware of what children watch and play. These ratings allows us to understand what is developmentally appropriate for our kids to watch and play.

TIPS:



  • Set a good example: limit your own screen time to 2 hours a day or less.
  • Have specific times/days when screens are off-limits. Meal times are great for encouraging everyone to eat and talk together.
  • Know what your kids are up to with those screens.
  • Talk to your kids about screen times and being careful on the internet.
  • Encourage variety.
  • Keep computers, TVs, and video game consoles out of kids’ bedrooms, and take cell phones, tablets, and iPods out of the bedroom at night.
  • Use the parental controls on all your electronic devices. (Follow the attached directions to use parental controls.) Be consistent.
What you can do instead:
  • Exercise as a family by taking walks, riding bikes, or playing sports or active games together.
  • Do something active for at least 60 minutes each day.
  • Set up screen-free play dates.
  • Encourage your kids to read a book or write a story.
  • Encourage them to draw, or create an art project.