When my daughter was just old enough to hold a book, I was surprised to notice her “swiping” the pages with her tiny finger. At age 1, she already was familiar with operating a tablet.
Now 6, my daughter excels at school but gets completely lost in the world of DIY slime videos and episodes of “Ever After High.” I’m alarmed at how challenging it is to set and stick to limits on how much time she spends looking a screen.
When she’s hit her screen time limit, she’s often upset. We use timers, talk about why too much screen is not healthy, compromise and work on identifying the emotions she’s feeling.
I’m concerned about how screen time will affect her when she’s older and begins texting, following social media and accessing the internet more freely.
A must-see movie for parents and teens
Join Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness for a special screening of the documentary “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age.”
The event is open to middle and high school-age youth and their parents.
Register by calling (502) 629-1234, option 4.
Friday, April 19 • 6 to 8 p.m.
As a children’s health and wellness expert, I know the effects of screen time on brain development. I know the studies all too well showing a correlation between excessive screen time and depression, anxiety and suicide among young people. I talk to parents who also realize the dangers of excessive screen time for kids and struggle to find a balance in their own families. It seems that the more we connect online, the less connected we are as a family.
The reality is screens are here to stay, and it’s up to us to figure out healthy solutions.
Limiting screen time for kids
- Talk about what is a reasonable amount of screen time. Try to stick to two hours or less per day.
- Define appropriate use of electronics. Are there sites and apps that should be off limits?
- Talk about cyberbullying. What are kids talking about on social media? How do we stand up to bullying and practice compassion and positive communication?
- Have “Tech Talk Tuesdays.” Discuss what is appropriate to post on social media.
- Use parental controls. Look for apps that track screen time and create quiet times.
- Ensure screen-free sleep environments. Sleeping near a small screen or having a TV in the room can lead to sleep problems — and 75 percent of teens don’t get adequate sleep.
- Lead by example. Parents need to put their phones down and have face-to-face conversations.
Jenita Lyons is manager of Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness.