We all know our kids spend too much time looking at their phones. The question is how does it affect them over time, and what do we do about it? Studies show that the average teen spends a whopping 6 hours and 40 minutes in front of a screen per day. That’s right, per day! In this study, screen time included phones, TVs, computers, and tablets. Did you know that as much as half of that time is spent on more than one device at a time? How often do you see your kid in front of the TV, yet they have their phone in hand, scrolling through social media or watching a video on YouTube? Let’s face it, we’re probably guilty of the same thing!
This large amount of screen time is bound to do some damage. Obesity rates rise, time spent socializing with family and friends decreases, as does the mental health of our teens. On the flip side, when a child’s screen time is monitored and regulated, there are improvements in physical activity levels, social interactions, and academic performance. Knowing those facts, it’s clear to see that it will be worth your time to come up with a plan on how to set screen time limits.
Here are some ways you could begin to limit your child’s screen time (and not be met with great resistance):
Be a good role model.
They watch our actions more than they listen to our words so be a good role model. Set the tone of the household when it comes to electronics and their usage. It’s hard to tell them not to be on their phones all the time when you are always on yours.
Let them know your rules about screen time and stick with them!
Read that again. You could draft all of your rules regarding screen time but if you don’t follow through and enforce them, what good are they?
Educate your teens.
Let them know what the dangers are with too much time spent in front of a screen and share with them the benefits. After all, how are they supposed to make wise decisions if they don’t have all of the facts?
Screen time is earned.
Having a hard time enforcing your new screen time rules? Then take it all away and make them earn it back. Perhaps they need to do their chores before they get an hour of screen time. Maybe they need to get an A or a B on a big test to earn some screen time. You set the goal and you set the reward time.
No screens at meal time.
A lot of families implement this rule. It’s a simple one: no TV, tablets, phones, etc. during meal times. Instead, encourage the old-fashioned pastime of talking to one another face-to-face. Share your day and ask them about theirs. It’s wonderful!
Skip the screen.
Have a certain day or two of the week where you “skip the screen.” This can make people anxious at first, but then they’ll love it! It’s so nice to unplug once a week.
You may go into this battle of reducing screen time with your guard up, anticipating the worst outcome but you may be pleasantly surprised after they get into the groove of the limited times. Your family will grow stronger because of it and your child will benefit academically. Stay strong and get over any initial push back because it will get easier and setting boundaries will be good for everyone.
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