Did you know that kids aged 8-18 spend an average 7.5 hours each day on a screen?
Whether it’s television, mobile phones, apps, laptops, desktops or tables – staring at screens has become a commonplace daily activity.
However, multiple studies have linked excessive screen time to issues at school, as well as a host of emotional problems including anger, aggression, frustration, depression. Most worryingly, due to the way algorithms on many sites and social media platforms work, if your child has already searched for ‘depression’, ‘suicide’, ‘self-harm’ and other concerning content once before, they will be fed more around this topic as the algorithm generates content they think a user is interested in. We may have no idea of the volume of negativity our children are being subjected to.
We all know how addictive screens can be – and one reason for the rise in depression among young adolescents (in particular) stems from using screens in favor of other, healthier activities.
Our five tips belows aim to help parents manage the unwitting dangers of screen time in a practical and purposeful way.
Tip 1: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Lead by example – if you’re glued to your phone, your kid will be too! Put your own phone on silent or ‘Unavailable’ settings, set your device aside, and show your kids you aren’t attached to a screen.
◼️ Try to have some screen-free times for the whole family.
◼️ Avoid temptation: Don’t have devices charging in the bedroom.
◼️ Make meal-times a device-free zone – enjoy making conversation at the table.
Tip 2: Set a Family Plan
Drawing up a family agreement is a great way to get your kids involved in choosing a healthier lifestyle, and understanding why too much screen time is bad for them.
The agreement can cover how much screen time is allowed, which apps or games they are allowed to use, and when it’s ok to download. For example, maybe they can have 30 mins on their Playstation after homework or is completed – or 15 minutes of screen time after dinner.
Tip 3: Offer Alternative Activities
There are so many other fun alternatives to screens.
◼️ Help your kid choose a hobby that speaks to them.
◼️ Whether it’s an outdoor sport, an intellectually-stimulating activity like chess, or something creative like drawing or painting, there should be an alternative to screens that they’ll find appealing.
◼️ Encourage social time with friends as well – and not those they’ve met online! Forming and experiencing real solid friendships is a benefit for life.
Tip 4: Talk about the Dangers
Talking to your kids about the dangers of too much screen time allows them to have autonomy, while still understanding the need for boundaries. If your kids understand your concerns, they will be more likely to collaborate with a family plan or timetable.
Choose any of the following as discussion starter points:
◼️ Detracts from other activities: There’s a whole world out there, but you won’t get a chance to explore it if you’re hooked on your device!
◼️ Blue light: Staring at a screen too long can affect eyesight and sleep patterns
◼️ Cyberbullying: Too much time on social media can lead to other online dangers such as bullying and trolling
Tip 5: Parental Control Apps
Using a parental control app like FamilyKeeper is the first step to helping prevent screen time overload. In today’s world, screens have almost become a necessity – there are great apps used for health, wellness, transport, and education that we wouldn’t be without. Hence, removing screens completely is not the answer.
However, effectively managing the amount of screen time your kids have is the answer. Thousands of families are already using FamilyKeeper every single day to help their kids utilize how and when they use their screens.
How can the FamilyKeeper app assist your family?
☑️ Set a schedule: Choose the days / times / hours when screen time is available
☑️ Bedtime: Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep by agreeing what time screens should be put away
☑️ Switches screens off – help find a healthier balanced lifestyle!
For further information, visit www.familykeeper.reasonlabs.com.