If you think that your children are too attached to the television or computer, you are not alone. Studies show that kids are spending over seven hours per day in front of a screen, and this number has doubled since 1999. Adults are just as guilty of screen addiction. What would we do if we had to go even one day without our iPhone or laptop? Technology can be both a blessing and a curse, and our electronic devices can create more harm than help if we cannot have enough self-control to put them away.
Too much screen time is especially detrimental to children because it has been linked to attention problems, sleep disorders, obesity and social issues. As children become more interested in computer and video games, they interact less with their family and friends.
How are you doing in modeling an appropriate balance between screen time and family time in front of your children? Sometimes we might be too hard on our kids, telling them that they spend too much time playing Minecraft or Temple Run, but is the pot calling the kettle black? How often are we tempted to check Facebook, text back and forth with friends, look at stocks or check the weather? When there’s a minute of downtime, are we using it to check our email or engage with our kids?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day for kids. Two hours of daily screen time post-work is also a good guideline for adults (Source: WebMD). Let’s be honest, sometimes, we just like to sit in front of a screen because we’re bored. If that is the case, here are some good ideas for activities to do as a family instead of watching the tube or each family member resorting to his or her electronic device of choice:
- Make Friday or Saturday night into a Family Game Night. Order pizza, buy prizes or let kids invite a friend over to join in on the fun.
- If your child sits at home each evening, sign him or her up for an extracurricular activity like an art class, sports team or club.
- Get a family pet to help increase levels of interaction among your family.
- Volunteer in the community and have your children help choose the charity or organization.
- Try new recipes. Even if you are not a cook, there are simple recipes that you can find online that are not difficult. Let the kids help. You could even try some international dishes and create theme nights.
- Don’t do away with screen time altogether. Choose designated movie nights but watch them together as a family. You can select movies that have a good message and think about some good questions to discuss with the kids after the movie (Source: Hudson Valley Parent).